We are delighted to welcome Cyndi Lee to MDK as a contributor. Founder of a yoga center in New York, and a lay Buddhist chaplain, Cyndi now teaches yoga and meditation, and is the author of several books about yoga. A recent transplant to New Mexico, Cyndi recently taught in Taos. We were eager to virtually tag along on her weekend, with our knitting in tow. Join us!
—Kay and Ann
A couple years ago, when I mentioned to a friend that I was moving to Santa Fe, there was an awkward silence. Then she said, “Did you know I used to live in Taos? It’s kinda . . . rough.”
My friend is right; Taos is not a buttoned-up place. The roads are dirt, and living off the grid is not unusual. Taos is full of skiers in the winter, hikers in the summer, and artists, makers and writers all year round. I recently visited Taos for a yoga workshop.
My companions and I stayed at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, which was built by Tony Luhan, Mabel’s husband, in 1920. Now a bed and breakfast, each unique room has a kiva fireplace, and many rooms have a view of the wild pueblo land watched over by Taos Mountain. The house is adobe, as is every other building in Taos, including the Starbucks, the Albertson’s and the McDonald’s.
With the help of trains, cars and horses, Mabel abandoned her society life in New York City and moved to Taos in 1918. She persuaded friends to visit, including Frieda and D.H. Lawrence, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keefe, Willa Cather, Emma Goldman and John Reed—remember the movie, Reds?—with whom she had an affair until he went to Russia.
The second floor bathroom’s windows were hand-painted by D.H. Lawrence, who found the bare windows too revealing when standing up in the tub. Who knew he was so modest?
In the morning, we walked past Georgia O’Keefe’s Pink House, and into Taos Plaza, the center of this town of nearly 6000.
Browsing and Shopping
At 124 Bent Street, near Taos Plaza, is possibly my favorite store in the world, Common Thread Textiles. The colors and textures found here are exquisite: khadi, indigo, sari fabric, and African mud cloth.
The store owner designs richly colored, artisanal fabrics woven in Central America.
Nearby, just off Taos Plaza, is Mooncat Fiber. The owner, Cathy Book, who made the store’s sign, mainly stocks local hand-dyed and handspun yarns. Some of the local handspun comes with a label listing the names of the animals who contributed to each skein.
Cathy also specializes in super soft bison and buffalo yarns, harvested from the fur of the animal’s underbelly.
This yarn is so warm that Cathy told me she wears her own handmade bison sweater when she goes fly fishing.
We also popped into Vortex Yarns to browse the lovely yarns and visit their resident knitted skeleton.
Brodsky Bookshop has been a beloved fixture in Taos for 40 years. Although ownership of the shop has changed, the employee of the month maintains consistency.
The current owner is Rick, who will help you can find LPs, comic books, art, travel and fashion books, and everything written by local authors. I picked up Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, which is set in New Mexico.
Eats and Drinks
It’s hard to get out of Brodsky Bookshop in under an hour. But we were flagging, due in part to the high altitude that requires constant hydration.
Cappuccino also seemed a good idea so we headed off to a local roastery. We asked for directions to The Coffee Apothecary and got: “Head south until you see a red truck with a coffee sign.”
Once you’ve gotten jazzed up on delicious coffee, you can go next door to Gearing Up and rent a bike. If you don’t mind some bumps, riding on the side roads will let you get even more intimate with the every day textures of Taos.
Picturesque fields with trucks abound.
We had a delicious (and large) lunch at the famous New Mexican restaurant, La Cueva.
For dinner, we headed off to The Love Apple.
It’s a romantic farm-to-table restaurant.
Ruby red trout, shishito peppers, sauteed turnips, superior guacamole or a mole tamale, plus a crisp white wine—a perfect New Mexico dinner. That’s my merry band of yoga teachers in the mirror.
Taos Pueblo: A World Heritage Site
Near Taos is a site of living history, Taos Pueblo, where the Taos Indians have lived for generations. Be sure to check out this link for an introduction to this historic village. For extraordinary images and videos, see the Taos Pueblo blog. I highly recommend a tour with a Taos Pueblo guide.
Bound for Santa Fe
It’s good to plan your departure from Taos so that you don’t have to drive in the dark on the narrow, winding canyon roads.
Fortunately, we made it to the half-way point in time to do a quick visit to the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center before they closed for the day. EVFAC is a member-based educational organization that has classes in everything fiber: natural dyeing, spinning, weaving and learning the traditional colonial Spanish style of embroidery called colcha, which means “bedcovers.”
One of the best offerings from EVFAC is their “Walk In and Weave” program, which allows a curious crafter to pop in for a few hours and learn to weave on any kind of loom, from cricket table looms to large floor looms.
There is so much more to do see, learn, and visit in Taos. I’m ready for another experience of the rugged beauty of this place.