The farther I pull away from Albuquerque, the more the terrain becomes mountainous. In the distance, mountain peaks appear as hazy blue mounds.
They seem so small, these blue mounds. Yet, with their white snow-capped peaks, they must be of an incredible size.
Towering and imposing the closer you are, but for now, they seem almost painted in the background of the New Mexican landscape.
The road continues north, and the tales of New Crobuzon ramble from my car’s speakers. The road continues.
* * * * *
Coming to the border of Colorado, the hazy blue mounds sharpen into focus. The blues of the mountains reveal dark green forests hugging the sides of the mountains. From the dark green sides, grey peaks erupt above the tree line.
Within the grey rocky peaks, veins of snow trickle down to the tree line. Like white blood vessels or snowy capillaries, it seems almost impossible that in the ninety-five degree heat, water remains frozen, so near and, yet, so far away.
* * * * *
I’ve taken this route before, nearly a year ago. But, this time the road, a four lane highway shifts. Two northbound lanes of traffic become one. The one shifts onto the southbound highway.
It wasn’t like this before. It was an easy six hour drive the last time I drove to Denver. Yet, now, the road slows, crawls forward.
The views are simply breathtaking and beautiful, and at a slower pace, I can revel in the natural beauty of the mountainous terrain.
The crawl of traffic begins to pick up, and I finally see the reason for the crawl. Covering the northbound lanes of the highway are large white and tan boulders covering the road. Chunks of rocks with jagged edges block any passage through the northbound lanes.
After another mile or so, the flow of traffic returns to normal. Two northbound lanes flow at a rapid pace.
The road continues.
* * * * *
A lone windmill stands in a seemingly endless field. And, I remember the windmill on my grandparents’ old homestead. Near their lung-shaped pond, their silver windmill stood pumping well water into a stock tank, which would allow the grazing cattle to drink and when filled, would overflow into the catfish pond.
My brother and I spent weekends and summer days at the fishing hole. Casting out hope for a large bass or a catfish dinner.
As I watch the windmill to the east turn, I remember when, upon walking out to the pond one day, finding the metal basin riddled with bullet holes. While problematic for the cattle, our immediate concern was for the critters that we had plopped into the tank the day before.
We had spent our previous afternoon catching small bluegills, tadpoles, and infant turtles to watch them swim in the clear well water, freshly pumped into the basin. Fearing for the lives of our captives, we managed to grab all the small aquatic creatures and throw them back into the flooded pond before the stock tank drained.
I try, as my car continues northward, to remember what my grandfather was doing as my brother and I saved the young aquatic lives. I try to remember why the stock tank had been shot with holes. I feel like there was a story to it, but it seems like ages ago. I simply can’t remember.
* * * * *
A black Dodge Ram passes me, and I notice its decor and affiliations. A Kansas City Chiefs decal decorates the rear of the driver side and passenger side windows. And where a trailer hitch should be, a Confederate flag gleams.
I imagine the driver of this pickup proudly voted for the 45th president.
And, I am sure the individual driving would greatly disapprove of the vagina rocket attached to my vehicle, if they understood the symbolism behind it.
I am sure the driver finds no issues with exploiting Native American culture with the Chiefs decals. Yet, at least, they aren’t Redskins stickers, a mascot term that even Oklahoma has banned at its higher institutions of learning.
The Confederate flag scream white supremacist at me. As cities and towns across the south finally remove statues of Confederate leaders, this Dodge Ram owner celebrates an attempt at a country whose goal was to maintain the enslavement of an entire race of people. As the rest of the world began to denounce slavery and move beyond it, the Confederacy held firm, justifying their morally righteous views with their faith and the Bible.
Echoes from the past, haunt today.
Mountains slowly begin to come into a hazy blue focus again.
And, the road continues.