After listening my reading from Strawberry Roan at the CRMS Reunion about our Spring Trip excursion to Keet Seel, Art Hughes ’60 sent me his stunning photos of the Keet Seel Ruin. He walked there on the day we both remembered as I rode horseback. Art returned to the site to photograph it several times in subsequent years. Keet Seel is part of Navajo National Monument in the Navajo Nation.
Here are his photos that bring to life my story “Keet Seel” in Strawberry Roan.
Thank you, Art
Elizabeth (Yibi) Mark Smith ‘61 had been living for years just a few miles from me in Davis California. We met over lunch in July and caught up on our life histories. We decided to go to the reunion together.
Once there, it was such fun to catch up on our class members long and varied lives, to react to old photos and remember those no longer with us. I spoke of my sister Mary who was in the first class at CRMS at an alumni memorial on the banks of the Crystal River.
I’ll be travelling to Colorado Rocky Mountain School next month for my 60th reunion.
The college prep boarding school was my school year home from fall 1958 to graduation in June’61. Part Three of Strawberry Roan consists of sketches from this time. The title of Part Three, “An Antidote to Easy Living” refers to founder John Holden’s original goal for the school he founded in Carbondale, Colorado in 1950.
Saturday August 7, I will be reading from the CRMS stories and answering questions about Strawberry Roan. The presentation will be a Zoom/Live Combo event from 10-11 MDT (1-2 PM EDT) If you would live to attend, please register below:
Thank you to my team! At Irie books: Gerry, Nancy and Lorry. Mari and Kristen at Mari Angulo Marketing and Design.
Coming soon: the audio book: Laurie Bower, Audiobook Narrator and Producer
A BLOGPOST COMPANION TO “UP HERMIT’S PEAK, CHAPTER Xlll,” STRAWBERRY ROAN, GROWING UP IN THE SHADOW OF HERMIT’S PEAK
Hermit’s Peak is a landmark visible for miles to the east and southeast of its location 16 miles from Las Vegas, New Mexico. Hermit’s Peak Trail to the summit is #225 in the hikingproject.com database. The starting elevation at El Porvenir Campground is 7537 ft and the summit is 10,182 in elevation. The trail is intermediate/difficult and rated at 5 stars.
The peak is a batholith (core rock intrusion) of gneiss and eponymous Hermits Peak granite intruded 1.7 billion years ago, capped by younger sedimentary rocks (300 million years) and forested by bristlecone pine. The granite is rich in crystals which leave it prone to fractures from freezing in winter. Our experiences of the falling boulders and sandy soil are results of the natural exfoliation. (“Like a giant with dandruff.”)
The mountain is named after Italian-born Juan Maria D’Agostini who lived on the peak for 5 years in the 1860’s in the solitude and piety of a hermit. He was revered for being generally helpful to the Hispanic farmers in the area, healing the sick and helping children learn the catechism. He was not ordained.
Local people watched over him. Sam Watrous, a pioneer rancher and founder of Watrous N.M, monitored the fires the hermit built every few days that signaled he was o.k. Others took him food and improved his shelter including the Brotherhood of the Penitentes. The trail up the mountain became a pilgrimage route. A society was formed in his name and a Way of the Cross constructed of hand-hewn crosses. I noticed the crosses in my earlier ascents of the mountain and recognized they had religious significance.
The miracles attributed to D’Agostini were never running out of atole, his staple food, and the initiation of a spring near his cave where he struck the ground with a stick. In spite of his good works and miracles, I could find no evidence of his canonization to sainthood.
When I lived in the canyon he was still remembered my many: Maria Martinez, an older woman who did housework and catering for Mother, told her with reverence that her mother had met the hermit. I’m surprised he hasn’t been canonized. In the shadow of Hermit’s Peak, he definitely radiated sanctity to the local people.
Reference: Jennifer Lindline, “The Mountain and Legend of the Hermit,” in Geology of the Las Vegas Region, NM Geological Society, 2015
ONLINE ZOOM EVENT AT SANTA FE LIBRARY
Wednesday, February 17th 2021
Christmas music. Ancient carols, Vince Guaraldi’s Snoopy suite, and most of all White Christmas pushed the sentimental boom box buttons of my brain in the 2020 Christmas season. Otherwise, cancelled Thanksgiving already past, Christmas was the most solitary event of the Covid Pandemic year.
With every Christmas Card I Write. Instead of my usual lavish collage or family group photo for this year’s Christmas card, I selected a screenshot of the on-line book launch of Strawberry Roan, my new memoir. It was one the few photos I had from 2020. There had been no family photo shoot. This picture was the best I could do. It included myself, Ellen and Lyman, two of my three adult children, and several writing friends, all boxed in virtual space. I had 50 Christmas cards made by Shutterfly, which offered a bevy of options including adding my name and additional text. I typed a few lines with my scant news on the back. I wrote a personal word or two, a line at best, and sent them out.
The experience was nothing like the lyric from White Christmas, the Irving Berlin song penned in the 1930s.
Judy participated in a virtual book tour where readers from around the world were able to read and enjoy her book, Strawberry Roan.
Judith Vaughan (Judy), born in New Orleans in 1944, is the author of Strawberry Roan, Growing up in the Shadow of Hermit Peak. A True New Mexico Coming of Age Story. It is her first published work.
Judy was the youngest of three daughters, born in the desperate closing months of the second World War. Her grandmother, sure she was born to be her Daddy’s boy, asserted that Wallace would be a fine first name regardless of the baby’s gender. Her mother, Elizabeth Lee Beil, a graduate of the University of Missouri and kindergarten teacher, did not agree. Her father, Wallace C. Beil, a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School, specialized in ophthalmology. His growing interest in horses led the family to New Mexico in 1950 and sparked Judy’s obsession with horses and medicine. Her youth in New Mexico is detailed in Strawberry Roan as is her education and young adult life.