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Fully Living Partly Outdoors

A traveler who prefers open country and big skies is wise to extend his stay in high grasslands into late April and early May.  Silver City, NM, is an excellent place to play that game because it is at the boundary of grassland and ponderosa forests. Typically, in the second half of May, the oven door opens up, and it's time to flee to the forest. This year it was the wind that drove me into the ponderosa forests.

But it took a certain amount of fist-making and teeth-clenching. I admit that forests do have certain advantages, such as shade and cooler temperatures, and that they make good wind-breaks. But they will never be my favorite places. Still, I've been getting better at it.

Something quite wonderful happened during the first sunset, back in the forest. A patch of yellow sunlight appeared opposite a window, and ABOVE it. It was a stolen sunlight, seemingly from below the horizon. 

It's just the opposite of what you expect in a forest  -- normally the trees would clip off your rightful sunlight for the first and last two hours of the day. (And it shows that it would be a great camping policy to seek out north/south ridges.)

As ghastly and overgrown as our national forests are, they are actually thinned -- think chainsaws and logging equipment -- near the "urban/forest interface."  That is why I was getting sunlight at sunset. The thinning is a great reason to camp close to town, in addition to the other reasons. It's a real bright spot, literally and figuratively, in an otherwise dysfunctional forest management policy. I hope I'm encouraging you to appreciate it and take advantage of it.

It reminded me of something. During my two trips to Mexico in an RV, I developed a great appreciation for "Spanish architecture." No, I don't just mean colors and shapes...

... like clay tiles on the roof, arches, and las bugamvillas over the door. I mean interior courtyards, thick adobe walls, generous roof overhangs, palm frond roofs, solar screens, and all the other things that make you feel like you are living partly outdoors. Even better is when you can adjust the degree of outdoorsiness, according to conditions. How profoundly satisfying that was!

Living in a thinned ponderosa forest is like that. Tweeking altitude (by moving your campsite) is like that. It is a very different way to live than the usual gringo way of hugging a furnace for one half of the year, and hugging an air-conditioner the other half.


Jim and Gayle said…
To us, camping amidst the ponderosas feels like hugging an air conditioner.
But you don't really mean that. You're just quipping.

Hugging a furnace or air conditioner is confining, debilitating, and conducive to dreary indoors cocooning. In contrast, partial shade in a ponderosa forest is liberating.
Tesaje said…
I agree. I long for the time when I can escape the hot humid summers. I never minded the cold winters as much as hot summers that enervate and make me hide from the outdoors. I always thought the western Ponderous forests fairly open giving vistas of the horizon frequently. Certainly nothing like the dense natural deciduous forests in the east,
But I do miss tree with leaves, instead of these boring needles!