By Lynn Moncus: Comments from the Canyon
A friend from down south continues to express her amazement that I chose to return to Quay County after retiring from the English department. She was sure that I wouldn’t last a year before returning to live in a place in which I could associate with “degreed” people in order to converse about esoteric subjects.
Now matter how often I tell her that I can visit with such people here and do it at all times, she can’t believe that anyone could possibly prefer a small town as opposed to one in which academia is still alive and well. How can I convince her it is here even though in smaller doses and that none of us is limited to visiting with a “chosen few?” In these parts, we associate with people because they are friends and don’t think in terms of their degrees or even their pedigrees. Most of us are very comfortable in each other’s company and can choose to discuss almost any subject that comes to mind-be it esoteric or spring winds that blow all year.
That person knew me only at the university and didn’t even know me well enough to realize I often dashed down the hill to the Ag building in order to hear real people talk about real subjects. Yes, I loved literature and the study of the English language, but I needed contact with people who spoke my kind of English and who could talk about something besides iambic pentameters or the idea that Shakespeare shouldn’t have been given credit for writing many of the plays to which his name is attached. I just needed to hear some comments about agriculture at times. At other times, I didn’t even want to hear that and would head to the pens behind the Ag building to listen to the cattle comment as they chewed their cuds or chomped on some of the latest experimental food. Few of the people on the hill knew about these habits because I just naturally kept part of my life to myself.
From the time I landed on campus, even as an undergraduate, I was always aimed toward home and knew I would return because that place has ever been important in my heart. That place has been important because of its people-family and friends. It has a feeling that cannot be found elsewhere and that cannot really be put into words. It’s just a feeling that comes with the territory and stays with the person. Quite a few of you know what I’m talking about, and others will never understand if they have no such feeling. Just seeing Tucumcari Mountain in the distance lets us know we are home. Just wandering in the canyons lets me know I’m really home and can still throw rocks in order to let off steam or sit on a big sand rock to think or not think.
Those of us who know where we belong are very fortunate because we are usually comfortable with ourselves and very comfortable with our friends. We can have friends from all walks of life and can talk about any subject that comes to mind: the burned beans, the latest rain report, Julius Caesar, or one of Baxter Black’s escapades. We can walk alone or walk with friends and can even be happy while leaning in the wind because we are home.