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Posted in Journal

Ghost Ranch


Where rocks meet the sky. 

When I finally arrived at the entrance of Ghost Ranch, located in the middle of nowhere but some­where, the sun was setting and casting shades of rust and copper off the huge Piedras. Here sat a drive­way that led you deeper into the rocks. I stopped the car, stunned by the vast natural beauty around me, taking it in. Imme­di­ately feeling at home in my heart, then I began my drive down the long and winding road that led to the ranch.

Cabin at ghost ranch

By the time I found my lodging, it was dark, and I had just missed dinner, which was served at 6:30 pm sharp. So I wandered around the prop­erty curi­ously with my waist light strapped on like a belt around my black linen flowing dress. The guests were already tucked away for the evening only to rise at the crack of dawn. I stum­bled upon the library that night; as its window glowed among the dark­ness, it happens to be open 24 hours a day. Filled with books head to toe, cover­ing art, design, travel, philos­o­phy, garden­ing, archi­tec­ture. Just imagine a small book store curated solely by Georgia O’Ke­effe — what a trea­sure this place was. I flipped through books for hours, think­ing about all the fingers that had crossed the very same pages I was holding over all the decades past. 

I came to Ghost Ranch to take an Earth Vessels work­shop in clay, which I haven’t spent any time with as an artist. It was a funda­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion, handling clay and learn­ing about its ancient process and place. This journey was a two-week sabbat­i­cal from the stresses of work and life. After a week of working with clay day and night, we fired our pieces under a Full moon cere­mony. The follow­ing day, we retrieved our pieces, most of which had not survived the overnight firing. Most of my clay work did survive the flames. Our teacher told me that was a good omen, and that was all I needed to hear. 

After a week at Ghost Ranch and my new love for sculpt­ing clay, I headed to an Airbnb down the road in Abiquiu to spend another week alone in the majes­tic desert. Georgia O’ke­ef­fe’s primary resi­dence and a museum dedi­cated to her home located in Abiquiu, about 20 minutes from Ghost Ranch. Visit­ing Georgia O’ke­ef­fe’s home was an inspi­ra­tion to see how simple she lived, that she took impor­tance in the sense of place and being. Her eye for modernism was way before her time, a real pioneer. I also live very simply, and modernism is a consid­er­able part of our lives in how we live. So this all felt famil­iar to me, and I have learned so much from her. The way she lived her daily life is like a road map to her soul — the impor­tance of the more minor things and the inten­tion behind these small acts. I under­stand now why she painted the land­scapes and chose to spend her final years in this place.

I made a stop at the Adobe Laven­der farm nearby. I loved this place, and its Laven­der essen­tial oil is the best. They even have a gluten-free bakery on site that has infused laven­der every­thing. I ordered some laven­der, dark choco­late cake, and it was perfect. I sat there eating it while breath­ing in the laven­der, which was enough to keep me going for a few more days. 

The quiet­ness of the desert can be daunt­ing and some­thing I strug­gled with, espe­cially being there alone. The wind howling all night, and the cracks of drift­wood porch and scent of juniper make them­selves known. The dessert in New Mexico is of ancient terri­tory, home to native Amer­i­cans steeped in ritual, weaved by history and threads from Earth. Here Earth meets the sky. It is where still­ness is ordi­nary, mimic­k­ing the rocks that stand tall silenc­ing in the distance. The shades of the desert are ever-chang­ing as the sun orches­trates the hues creat­ing a theatre of color. While the clouds dot the bright blue sky in the daylight hours, provid­ing a new appre­ci­a­tion for their beauty and place. The vast open skies allow for unin­ter­rupted stargaz­ing at night. 

Ghost ranch 1
Okeef­fe’s home in Abiquiu, NM 2021

Being alone with nature is like stand­ing in front of a mirror to your soul. There is nothing there to distract you from your­self. And anything you don’t want to confront confronts you. It will make the weak strong and will bring those hard­ened by life to their knees. 

Love, Kristen