The Southern New Mexico desert doesn’t change color much during the fall. The dry hills may have a dusting of green as plants drink in the passing of the monsoon season. Crisp mornings with the hint of woodsmoke have replaced the early morning chatter of birds. I don’t need to get up as early to watch the sunrise and drink my coffee here in Truth or Consequences. Pink orange clouds break up the turquoise blues of a beginning day. Turtleback Mountain sits silent, soaking up flaming hues. Color in the desert is tucked away, saved for special occasions.
As a child, the fall season was punctuated in my mind by the smoke of roasting chili and the bright reds, blues, and odd shapes of balloons floating through the Albuquerque mornings. It was always clear and cold. I have recently come back to New Mexico, leaving behind the wet green of the Pacific Northwest, the fog laden days wrapped in a hoodie, watching rain drip from the window sill. It is nice to be back home, to put back on my cowboy boots and walk down cracked roads in a tiny desert town. I had missed the dry autumn air filled with roasting chili and the smell of dry soil.
I have found a quiet luxury sitting in hot mineral water reading my book, as the Rio Grande slowly winds its way to water fields in the south. In the evening, there is music at the local Truth or Consequences Brewery. I can eat an Asian fusion meal from Latitude 33, while sipping a rich green chili amber beer—a swirl of smoke and flavor without the heat. My conversations with people have included a NASA scientist and award-winning book binders. The prevailing atmosphere is one of vitality and a savoring of the present.
This is a town in the middle of reinventing itself. There is new life being brought to the desert. Artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and idealists have started to take root in Truth or Consequences. In a placed steeped with history, time has not always been kind. The brightly colored store fronts still have some empty windows, but the evenings are filled with light and music pouring into the street. As the cooler months approach the town will slowly fill with people from all over the world looking for the healing and warmth provided by the hot springs bubbling up from the ground.
I am happy to have found my way back to the desert. As the days grow shorter and darker, I am looking forward to replacing the heat of the day with the heat of the fall chili harvest. I have started to explore the history of the area and hike the quiet mountain. This is a place that exemplifies what New Mexico has to offer: history, art, nature, and community.