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Paddling into the sunrise

Updated: Sep 12

For most people living in the USA, summer is bookended by the Memorial Day (May) and Labour Day (September) holiday weekends.

For me, Labour Day weekend signals the beginning of my personal paddle season which comes with the end of summer crowds at the lakes who cramp my dawn paddles-with-light style. I prefer solitude.

Regular access to this numinous experience is the major reason I responded to the old hacienda's siren call, when she seduced me into a commitment to take care of her. In return she gives me, and my two kayaks one canoe and seven paddles, shelter and a patch of earth to tend in the northern Chihuahuan desert.

Sunrises in the desert are so often so word defyingly wondrous.

Today, even though it is a slightly longer drive (18 miles as opposed to five to Elephant Butte lake) I chose Lake Caballo for my dawn prayer paddle and celebration of having the lakes to myself again.

The Caballo mountain range lies on the east side of the around about 18 mile long lake, which is an irrigation reservoir, formed by damming the Rio Grande. This dam project was completed between 1936 and 1938, as part of President Roosevelt's economic depression recovery programs known as the New Deal .

Janis truck, the yellow Scrambler Ocean Kayak and I arrive at water's edge just before the sun slips over the mountains. The water is crumpled satin. Swallows swoop and dip in the brightening light.

We immerse ourselves in the opalescence of liminal light on water - expressed today as a brief, magical silver and gold luminosity, shot through with shades of onyx and hematite.

The experience of light on water while paddling was on my mind when I carved the blocks for a new two colour card this week.

I'm not sure that I have quite translated it adequately and need to just sit with this design a bit. In early October, I'm exhibiting at the Printers Market at the Southwest Print Fiesta in Silver City (New Mexico).

Though I will mostly be offering hand block printed dish towels, tablecloths and lengths of cloth, there will be a selection of cards as well.

All summer, a dragonfly design has been incubating . A quick lakeside sketch a few days ago, evolved into the card design.

By the end of today's paddle, Yelliw Scrambler kayak and I had crossed into another dimension. The sandstone cliffs on the west side of the lake were sun gilded and radiant, looking like ancient adobe buildings and reflecting an Eldorado - a golden adobe city - in the water.

A few fishermen were arriving.

It was time to turn back, to return to the hacienda and do the usual Friday-prepare-for-Saturday farmers market things.

Only two more months of this farmers market season.

But in the market off-season there's so much more potential for happening upon sublime sunrises and having a lake all to myself.


More opportunities, as well, to stumble into the mirage of Eldorado in an enchanted desert.

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