[37/100 Strangers]: Cindy


[37/100 Strangers]: Cindy

We had a friend from Western New York State come to visit us over Memorial Day weekend. He asked to see something special and “Southwestern,” during our time together. So we set out for an afternoon hike at Kasha-Katuwe (in Keres, the language of the Cochiti people), known as Tent Rocks National Monument. It’s a park managed by the BLM with concurrent jurisdiction from Cochiti pueblo.

At Tent Rocks, one may complete a moderate hike on a recreational trail through a slot canyon that ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level. Along the slot canyon trail, one may view some spectacular cone shaped rocks that are present now as a result of volcanic activity that took place 7 million years ago. Here is one of my views from the hike: flic.kr/p/sJg2fu

Many people start the slot canyon trail but don’t reach the trail end. For some it’s due to a lack of physical fitness, or difficulties breathing at the high altitude. Others arrive too late to reach the trail end and are turned around by a ranger who walks them out, to close the trail for the night.

Yes, I made it to the top. While there, I shared some of my acquired knowledge of native New Mexican plants with my visiting friend. We were crouched low so I could get him to inhale the scent of a specimen of Mexican Evening Primrose; flic.kr/p/tLo5RZ. This plant opens at night and reveals an amazing fragrance to attract pollinating insects. As I was taking a photo of it, I was approached by Cindy, 37/100 of my strangers.

Cindy said, “When I see someone with a camera like yours, aimed at something for a photograph, I should probably look at it and make a photo of it, too.” And out came her phone for some snapshots of the Evening Primrose. I encouraged her to kneel down and enjoy the fragrance of the plant’s perfume.

Later when descending the trail, I stopped to photograph some rock formations. Cindy wasn’t far behind me. She made a comment to her own hiking partner, “Watch what she’s capturing; you’ll probably see something interesting.” It was very flattering to overhear.

As they drew nearer to me, we started to speak and become acquainted. Eventually it lead to my making photographs of them together, and images alone for use in this project, with permission.

Cindy is from California and is half-Japanese on her mother’s side. She attended culinary school and joked that she doesn’t go out to dinner often with her husband because her home cooking has spoiled him. Cindy is a long distance runner who now lives in Albuquerque, NM.

During the descent, we arrived at an area where light was burning between some rock formations. I directed her to stand with her foot resting along a canyon wall. I thought the background offered a suitable context for our encounter. The sun was streaming from on high and the side. It cast her shadow spirit on the wall. Cindy was born to run. It even says so on her T-shirt.

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