After touring most part of New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment,” I would say I finally found an enchanting land at the foot of the majestic Sangre De Cristo Mountains – Taos. The organic shape of San Francisco De Asis Church, the breathtaking Rio Grande Gorge, the whimsical Earthship community, the vibrant art culture, and the perfume of the lilac around town are all connected at some point by one basic element, the soil of this land.
The most striking adobe architecture is San Francisco De Asis Roman Catholic Church in the Ranchos Plaza. Sitting right by Highway 68, the back of the church faces the road. It is hard to figure out what it is at first sight. The geometric shape of the adobe walls and buttresses are modern looking. The unique beehive shaped buttresses enhanced the walls. The enchanting organic shape of the church has been the subject of many artists, including Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe. A flock of pigeons were perching along the edges of the church cooing. Framing the church was the azure morning sky with a sliver of the moon. The pigeons took off all of a sudden and flew back together shortly. I wondered what messages they received. The church has twin bell towers and an arched white door. Low adobe walls surround the sides of the church. Strands of hay were clearly shown from the missing adobe on the entrance to the courtyard. This building is constructed with the mixture of hay and clay. A selection of black volcanic rocks was studded on the base of the outside wall of the yard. Two narrow and long iris flower beds flanked the walkway to the church. A few pale blue irises started to bloom. The exterior of the church has only two colors: adobe color and white. Entrance door, crosses, and statues are all in white. The simplicity and purity added more charm to this sacred church. The interior features imported oil paintings on hand painted altar screen, and hand-hewn ceiling beams. The exterior will be reapplied with adobe each June.
“Taos is art.” Said the slogan on the flags on the lamp poles. Indeed, art is everywhere in town. A gallery neighbors the San Francisco De Asis church has beautiful hemlock flowers painted on the adobe walls. The bright blue color of the door contrasts with the earth color of the adobe walls and matches the color of the blue sky. Blue is a common color used in decorating doors, trims of windows, protruding vigas, and porch posts. It is well demonstrated on the complex of McCarthy Plaza at the Taos Plaza. I also found blue on a figure shaped bench in front of a gallery. A mural of a group of galloping horses beautified the historic Ledoux street. Former residence of Ernest Blumenschein, artist and founding member of Taos Society of Artists, sits here. The rich culture of the Taos Pueblo and the enchanting landscape of northern New Mexico attracted Blumenschein to settle down at Taos. Native Americans and New Mexico landscape were his main subject of paintings. Taos has been home to many artists. Taos art colony was developed since 1915. Other notable artists include R.C. Gorman and Agnes Martin.
Adding to the enchantment of Taos are flowers. Lilac is everywhere. The air was filled with the fragrance of lilac. Lilac arched their branches beyond adobe walls, above old wooden fences and pavement, or simply stood against walls. Irises, columbine, puppies adorned adobe walls. Spring flowering trees were laden with blossoms. Flower sculptures also made the yard more beautiful.
Across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, on the west side of the amazing Rio Grande Gorge lies Earthship community. A community like no other. Those houses look like walking out of a fairy tale. Their whimsical shapes and the construction materials blew my mind away. Recycled tires, glass bottles, and mud are used to build these sustainable buildings. At the visitor center, I could see that most buildings were built against a mound of soil on the north side. The mound of soil sheltered the building from the prevailing north wind on this high plateau. South facing big glass windows harvest the sun to grow food indoor. It is a type of passive solar house that was designed by architect Michael Reynolds. It’s incredible that Earthship Biotexture enables you to live off the grid, collect water from the sky, reduce waste, and plant your own food (taos.org, www.earthshipglobal.com). I am a little concern about the sources of water though. Because the lady at the Kit Carson Home and Museum told us that Taos only had 12% of normal snow this last winter. Hopefully the summer monsoon will bring water to this thirsty land.
Free parking (including RVs) near the Taos Plaza, high speed free Wi-Fi in the library, plenty of outdoor activities, the enchanting Taos awaits you to explore it.