WildWriting @ The Mabel Dodge Luhan House
September 20, 2006
Mabel Dodge Luhan, fabled heiress from Buffalo New York, is known for her love, inspiration and support of creative artists (Georgia O’Keeffe), great writers (D. H. Lawrence) and thinkers (Carl Jung).
Known as one outrageous woman who came west in 1916, she fell in love with Santa Fe and Taos, then met and married the Taos Pueblo leader named Tony Luhan. Seems like she had a peak moment, which extended throughout the rest of her life. She referred to it as "breaking in two."
Under Tony’s advice, she bought the property now called The Mabel Dodge Luhan House, the place she lived and entertained artists, writers and creative people the likes of Alfred Stieglitz, Margaret Sanger, Gertrude Stein, Arthur Rubenstein, Greta Garbo and Leopold Stokowski, conductor of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
Mabel is gone now, died in 1962, and is buried in Taos at the Kit Carson Cemetery. In the August weekend writing workshop I attended in Taos, we visited the Mabel Dodge Luhan House and in that afternoon visit, we toured and wrote. Below is what I call my “WldWrite at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House”
Wildwrite @ the Mabel Dodge Luhan House
August 19, 2006
In the cool damp air, my nostrils inhale the freshness of the steady rain. The ground seems to expand, accepting the scarce commodity for this normally dry region. I hear the drops against the roof of the low portal less than two feet above my head. The stark white cedar posts, which at one time were green trees on the mountain, outline the covered path from the meeting room, leading to the personal suites. The canales are dripping more fully now, the rain gathered in their channels.
The swirling stone walkway beneath my feet conjures up the thousands of footsteps it has supported for hundreds of years. My mind drunk on rain — like the dizzy-looking grey pigeon walking in the water at the base of the dovecotes across the yard, finally settling itself into a puddle found between the stones.
Some doves sit contentedly on the roof and others hover near an opening to shelter. One walks the ridge and then turns to let its body, tail down, allow the soft rain to flow off its back.
And on the ground beneath my feet, on the newly sprouted grass, lies fallen Bartlett pears. Under the tree, laden with un-ripened fruit — a pear — just as fresh a fruit as I ever tasted.
Somewhere in my consciousness, I register my held breath, as if it waits in anticipation of discovering more, all this is already so delightful. It would be oh so nice to twirl and dance on the wet lawn in my bare feet and lift my face to the falling rain, to let go and be free — free to move with all my awareness and mind-lifting sense of balance.
Interesting, that as I enjoy it for myself that I have no thoughts of wishing I can share this with anyone else — no yearnings — just acceptance, and full experience of a moment at hand.
The high desert, though still all around me is very far away, my parched skin being replenished with water.
The doves begin to coo and I am drawn into a scene of medieval knights and their customs of keeping dovecotes — knights and armor, of maidens running through woods with soft billowing gowns sashaying about their ankles. Who would I have been if this were then? The knight or the maiden? Likely a knightly maiden who will not listen to the command of her father, and who frustrates her mother by always running off from her more maidenly duties of sewing warm coverlets — to read and train her pet goat to ring its bell in signal when the local miller’s son comes through the gate.
Alas, I am not there now, and likely fortunate too, for I can only have thoughts about this place right now, and offer my appreciation for the vision behind this wonderful sprawling old hacienda — of the people who have put so many hands and hearts to making and preserving the history here — of the Northern New Mexico Pueblo Natives, the man who laid the walk-stones gently wielding them into place with his cloth-bound hammer, and the woman who swept them clean as her red and yellow skirts swing in motion with the broom.
Thoughts of Mabel herself, talking and laughing with the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe, and Carl Jung. Of such things as these — history is made.