“What are you going to do whenrnyou’re finished here?”rn”That’s a good question. How long dornyou plan on staying?”rn”I don’t know. As long as there’srnsomething to see.”rnRita Madrid joined us to drink redrnbeer and listen to the Mexican band.rnWhile it was playing she recalled for merna story I had heard on a visit to Mesillarnsome years before, about the womanrnwho drowned her children in the RiornGrande and still haunts the scene of thernkillings. The locality of the town, Ritarnbelieves, is extremely active supernaturally.rnSome years ago a relative wasrnputting her infant child down when shernheard a knock at the door. The callerrnwas an old woman dressed in black, holdingrna baby in her arms. Without speakingrna word the woman indicated that sherndesired permission to enter the house;rnthe hostess, stepping aside, was surprisedrnto see that the child she carried wasrnclosely wrapped in a blanket identical tornthe one in which her own child wasrnsleeping. The old woman accepted thernseat offered her but she refused to explainrnwhat she had come for, and afterrnseveral minutes of silence the mother returnedrnto the bedroom to look in on thernbaby, which lay dead in its crib. Rushingrnin panic to the front of the house shernfound the room empty, and the oldrnwoman nowhere in sight on the lonelyrnroad. “Things happen all the timernaround here,” Rita said. She added, “Nornone wants to talk about them anymore.”rnI found a house to my liking on thernEast Mesa, five miles from downtown atrnthe edge of the creosote-bush desertrnwith a view of the Organ Mountains risingrnagainst the eastern sky: faux adobe,rnon a nice-sized lot surrounded by a rockand-rncement wall topped by an ironrnfence, with flagstone patios front andrnback, shaded by pine and fruit trees and,rnbehind the house, windrows of apricotrntrees filled with grackles screaming asrnCHILTON W I L L I A M S O N , JRrnhe senior editor for booksrnat Chronicles has moved from thernWyoming locale described in hisrnmonthly column to New Mexico.rnHe encourages Chronicles readers inrnthe New Mexico area to get in touchrnwith him by writing torn5021 Redland St., Las Cruces,rnNew Mexico, 88011.rnthey fought each other for the unripernfruit. A small fireplace allowed for fragrantrnmesquite-wood fires on cold desertrnnights in winter. Ten miles away at DonarnAna in the valley of the Rio Grandernnorth of Las Cruces I made arrangementsrnto put two horses on several acresrnof lush pasture watered by the acequias,rnwith corrals, pecan trees for shade, and arnstables to lodge them during the flood irrigation.rnHere in south-central NewrnMexico the price of hay is three timesrnthat in Wyoming, but with good pasturernavailable six or seven months of the yearrnconsumption should be one-half to arnthird of average up north. If not, I will bernexploring the wilderness of the Gila laterrnin the summer by burro, or maybernmountain bike. For my horses, who havernlived their lives on the sagebrush steppesrnof Wyoming, Dofia Ana is going to seemrnlike the Garden of Eden, even the MuslimrnParadise. For myself, I have to lookrnforward to the Gila, the Black Range, thernPeloncillo and Chiricahua mountains,rnMexico, season tickets to Sefior Hurtado’srnbull ring in Juarez, Jim Rauen in Belen,rnJim Catron in La Joya, Steve Bodiornin Magdalena, Ernie Bulow in Gallup,rnand acquaintances in Taos, Albuquerque,rnand El Paso. After three days inrnLas Cruces there is nothing to do butrnhang around in the cantinas for a fourthrnday, out of the hundred-three degreernheat, and fly back to Wyoming tornpack up.rnAmong the many inconveniences ofrnholding on to the past is the necessity ofrncarrying the physical residue on yourrnback like a tortoise: Eighteen years of livingrnto transport by small convoy acrossrn975 miles of mountain and desert countryrnat the peak of the summertime heat.rnOur pioneer ancestors of the backcountryrnand the Old Southwest a century andrna half ago had better sense. Restless,rnfootloose, avid for change as any author,rnthey were regularly on the move, hardlyrnpausing to let the grass grow under theirrnfeet and between the stumps on the landrnthey had finished clearing but whichrnbored them now; eager to follow thernwestward caravans that passed theirrndoorsteps in rapidly increasing numbers.rnLife was simpler in those days, when relativelyrnfew people had possessions inrnwhich to haul their possessions aroundrnwith them wherever and whenever theyrnchose. Once the decision had beenrnmade to move on there was nothing leftrnfor them but to pull the door to, whistlernup the dogs, and go. e-rn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn