WITH EVERY ISSUE, my personal to-do list gets a little longer. For one thing, there’s already a stack of books by NM authors at home crying for some quality time—Steven Kotler’s new Stealing Fire, about cutting-edge high-performance techniques; Stanley Crawford’s latest novel, The Village; Tom Russell’s book of Western essays, Ceremonies of the Horsemen—and now they’re all competing for attention with Querencia, by Stephen Bodio. Read The Great Unknown and chances are you’ll be asking yourself the same question I am: How did I not know that one of the country’s finest nature writers lives in Magdalena?
It’s crazy how much talent lives out in them thar hills. (One of Bodio’s close neighbors is a world-class cellist!) Meanwhile in Los Alamos, Craig Martin (A Force of Nature) isn’t just a powerhouse forest conservationist; his saxophone fronts a jazz combo and he cranks out books about local plants. And Iris Keltz (Commune to Community), who serendipitously landed in northern NM during the Woodstock summer of ’69, wound up writing a landmark document of the era, Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie.
Clearly there’s something about the state that encourages a certain type of soul, including some really famous people, to merge into the fabric of life here and just get on with it. Even the land itself keeps a low profile. The Gila National Forest is a big deal, including the country’s first designated wilderness area, but it keeps to itself—you can’t just load up the four-wheeler and go bashing around until you find gas, food, and lodging. That’s what makes an inholding like Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch (The Wild Heart of the Gila) so valuable, for providing eco-friendly access to a pristine national treasure. And as for my to-do list, the secret-stash drive-and-hike routes described in Base Camp: Socorro just claimed an entire Herndon family weekend.