My first sojourn to New Mexico was in college, when I attended an archeological field study outside of Taos. I became mad for the place-but could never really put a name to why I was so drawn-it could have been the margaritas. Since, I studied and photographed the area voraciously. Even after moving to Santa Fe this year, I have had a hard time determining exactly what it is about New Mexico that is so compelling. The economy is troubled, it can be a dangerous place for a lone blonde cowgirl, there is crazy crime, violence, riots, shootings and plenty of bad hombres. Its beauty is obvious, but that alone doesn’t explain its appeal.
Recently, I had the good fortune to photograph a cattle branding at a friend’s large cattle ranch in Northern New Mexico. Lovely country, people, horses and cows. Heaven. I grew up in this world, going to many roundups and brandings in Colorado, but it was this one that made me realize what it was about New Mexico that had me hooked. For all of its issues – New Mexico is still WILD. Here, it is still, in nearly every corner of the state, the wild west-just with electricity and plumbing (although not always). There are still people making a living entirely on horseback, raising cattle on vast expanses of land. The Vaquero and their traditions are very much alive here.
Folks here are the real deal, for good or bad; the weather is violent and the landscape gorgeous but unforgiving; there are enormous Jurassic insects, vicious spiny plants and snakes that will kill you. It’s not for everyone-but it’s a Xanadu for those of us still wild at heart.