Desert Spring, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca — A Week Later

Perhaps it’s the beginning of the rainy season. It has been unseasonably hot here in Oaxaca’s Tlacolula Valley. The temperatures are upward of 91 degrees Fahrenheit. Blessings for rain these last two days to cool us down. The afternoons are now unreliably hot for walking far, if at all. Thermal heat builds up then and the skies open with a downpour, if we are lucky. I am want to sit under the covered part of my patio, Butch and Tia nearby, looking skyward. It’s a week since Mamacita died.

The Second Boundary Marker, one of our favorite spots

My habits are changing. Today, I woke up and got out early (for me), by 7:15 a.m. to walk into the campo while it was still cool, a mild 61 degrees. The sun was barely rising over the mountain range, diffused by cloud cover. It will heat up again today. The fresh air was good for me and the remaining two dogs. Mamacita’s absence is palpable. It was as if her spirit was following us along the trail.

Portrait of Butch, TinType
Butch in full color

One step at a time, I remind myself. No stumbling over loose rocks. No looking out into the distance at the next marker. No pretending that there are three dogs here along with me instead of two. Be in this moment and savor all that is good. Mourn the loss. Take one step at a time. Remember. Don’t blame. Keep your footing.

The First Boundary Marker at the trailhead

We covered the boundary trail that marks the nearby villages San Mateo Macuilxochitl and Santiago Ixtaltepec, walking to the third stone marker that designates the territorial divide. Back and forth, about three miles. I took a 10-minute meditation rest at the entrance to a box canyon where the trail crosses a dry creek. The land is porous, rocky, cactus-strewn, high desert. Sometimes the dogs stop to pick cactus spines from their paws with bared teeth.

Tia almost breathless
Self-portrait, TinType

By 9:15 a.m. the sun is well up over the mountain and heat begins to penetrate. I continue along a wide farm path that borders yet to be plowed corn fields. Butch and Tia run ahead, chase field mice, birds, stray dogs. They go the distance at full running speed, heads down, legs outstretched as if ready to fly. This is good for them. Me, too.

Spiny cactus flower
A common weed with uncommon beauty

At home it’s quieter now. Two hands for petting two dogs. No one vying for more attention than the other. Serene, actually. Even at night there is less barking. I am noting the changes. Accepting what this land has to offer. Taking one step at a time. Understanding the loss.

Desert morning, like a moonscape
Butch on the lookout, TinType

24 responses to “Desert Spring, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca — A Week Later

  1. You write so beautifully and with great emotion which, is very moving; it’s almost as though I was on that walk with you. Having lost – to age – several beloved 4 legged friends, I feel sad for yours – the spiral of life which can offer us joy as well as grief. Aren’t we fortunate that we get to feel so many emotions? Mamacita was lucky to have you in her life. She was certainly as beautiful as her name implies. Cuidate mucho, amiga linda and enjoy your life there. Thank you for the blouses which arrived today – so lovely, I’m completely delighted with them! Un besito de amistad.

    • Dear Sasha, I’m touched by your compliments. Thank you. I’m also grateful for your reply which warms me during this recent loss. It is hard enough to lose a pet from old age, let alone unnatural causes.

      I’m thrilled to hear you like the blouses. On a happier note.
      Un abrazo

  2. Norma
    Your photos are so beautiful. They make me want to return to Oaxaca and explore more. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of Mamacita. They have a hard life but you’ve given them some joy.

  3. So sorry to know of your loss. Having been through this loss many times, I’ve become aware of the truth that the spirit of my beloved companions often perch on my shoulder for as long as I need them to do so, sometimes for many, many months. They know when it is okay for them to move on to their final resting place. It is comforting to know that they are with me in spirit. I often continue to speak with them. on their perch. I know that this doesn’t square with the hard realities of the world but it is part of my truth. I hope this helps your transition.

  4. Norma,
    I am thinking about you today. We are under gloomy skies and temperatures about 20 degrees below normal. Is there such a thing as normal anymore?
    I’m so sorry you had to travel back to your home to such a tragedy. I hope that Butch and Tia will be safe from harm. You have my undying admiration for your expansive and generous way of looking at the world. I have much to learn from you.
    I’m beginning work on a turquoise necklace with cross and hummingbird Milagros as an homage to Patrick, someone I feel like I knew for a longer time than I did. Sometimes the losses pile up a little too much.
    Wishing you peace.

    • Hi, Jenny, the new normal is not normal at all. So well said. You are very thoughtful and I admire that about you. Yes, a tribute to Patrick is fitting, and what better way to express this loss than a hummingbird milagro necklace. This inspires me to create something, too. Thanks for your heartfelt words about loss. It is always and all around us. Finding ways to cope and recover is important. Sending love,

    • Susanne M. Corrigan

      I am sorry for your loss. You express your true feelings so well that all of us who have lost a pet can relate and walk along beside you like
      Mamacita did.

      Regards, Susanne

  5. I feel like I went on that walk with you…thank you

      • I wish I could give you a hug Norma. Just know that I am doing so in spirit. Grief over the loss of our beloved Dane, Oonagh, is what precipitated my trip to Oaxaca to care for Mamacita, Sombra and Luz. Loss and grief will always be part of living but we can be thankful we loved a being so intensely that we mourn her life when it is over. That she made our life so much richer by her presence. Time will ease the pain. As you said, put one foot in front of the other and move with conscious thought of each step. I think you feel Cita’s presence on the trail for a reason. I was not lucky enough to meet Butch, but Tia is a very special girl. She loved Mamacita intensely and always stayed close to the casita just to be near her. Give her a big hug from me.

        • Dear Sylvia you will always be in my ❤️ for your generosity and kindness. You came on short notice to step in to care for the rescued Mamacita and her pups when I had to leave. I am eternally grateful. I know you have a special fondness for these animals. I accept your virtual hugs with love. Besos, Norma

  6. So sorry for your loss, Norma. And thank you for the pictures; I especially like the last one, “Butch on the lookout.” May you find peace with time.

  7. Beautiful, I felt like I was walking there too. Hugs

  8. Tin type and almost rin tin tin type. Temp in NC are about the same — upper 60s to low 90s, but more humid here.

  9. Thank you for loving Mamcita while she was with you. She will always be special and irreplaceable in your heart.

  10. Thank you for baring your soul, sharing your loss. You are well loved.

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