It’s summertime in New Mexico, which means that every afternoon a cloud (or ten or twenty) starts gathering steam in the southwestern sky and threatens to (we hope, hope, hope) dump rain before nightfall. For those of you living elsewhere, let me tell you about New Mexico summer clouds – they’re not for the faint of heart, they’re not small and delicate and wispy, but they are amazingly beautiful, especially when the evening light catches them around the edges.
Yesterday I drove home from Lubbock and arrived at the caprock south of San Jon at about 7:20, the perfect time for cloud viewing. I stopped to take pictures, and could hear both my kids in my head, saying, “Wow, Mom, those are some Wilson Hurley clouds!” And they were.
Back in the day when Zachary was in kindergarten and I was a starving single mom/legal secretary at the Sutin Law Firm in Albuquerque, my boss went to some black tie event, some promotional affair where they handed out art posters to commemorate attendance. He received a signed poster of Wilson Hurley’s “Thunderhead at Last Light” and in either a fit of generosity, or just because he wouldn’t be caught dead with a print in his home, he handed it off to me the next Monday morning. I loved it – it was exactly what the New Mexico sky looks like at sundown with a thunderstorm brewing. It looked like home to me.
I very proudly took it to Michaels where they mounted and framed it and we hung it on our dining room wall (even though the dining room was part of the kitchen in our tiny apartment). We kept Hurley with us for years, and my kids would look at an amazing summer cloud and say, “Wow, Mom, there’s a Wilson Hurley cloud.” He could paint a New Mexico cloud unlike anyone else I ever knew. One of the great heartbreaks of my life was when we were moving to North Carolina and I placed the print in the garage of our house on Dakota Street in Albuquerque, where someone accidentally broke the glass and bent the print in the moving process.
We don’t have the print anymore, and my kids are grown and out of the house, but every time I see a gorgeous New Mexico cloud, I think of them, and of Wilson Hurley, who knew exactly what the sky looks like here. Amazing.