I’ve often wondered: why does the year always go out as a hoary-frosted bearded dude in wizard robes?

Why not bid adieu to the year represented by an elegant woman of a certain age? 

(Consider Georgia O’Keeffe versus Charleton Heston.)

Picture her: ramrod straight posture, long white hair carefully composed in a chignon, donned hand-tailored clothing in black and white. 

Or perhaps you imagine a softly rounded Spider Woman, gazing back over a horizon of mesas and buttes, grasping a thread that could unravel the sky.

When I look back on 2012, I do not picture a caricature of Michelangelo’s fingered God reaching across the heavens.


Dec 31, 2012 doesn't look anything like Richard Harris cloaked in Albus Dumbledore’s robes, either.

La Señora Vieja 2012 wears a burgundy velvet skirt: hem dusted in red oxide, a lone loose thread snagged by a sprig of sage. Her back is bent; she holds fast to a crooked cottonwood staff, trudging up the last few yards to the top of the ridge, just past the tree line.

And while we’re at it, let’s tweak the baby that was once La Niña.

Nueva vida = Nuevo año?  

I totally get that.

I’ve birthed babies.

Nothing comes remotely close to having seen new life emerge from my body.


But why start each new year featuring a cherub with a sprong of golden hair?

Not that there’s anything wrong with this – I love all varieties of babies!

Still, why not mix it up? Shouldn’t our years have as much variety as humankind?


La Niña 2012 came into the world with a shock of straight black hair, tawny skin, and brown eyes tilted ever so slightly at the outside corners. No baby blue bunting, either – swaddle her in a striped serape of olive, magenta, and orange. Add a thin stripe of rosy-fingered dawn.

For hope.

Spring arrives. Our baby’s serape is unfolded, freeing her limbs. Her mother spreads it on the new grass under the cottonwoods, plants her in the middle. The babe sits upright, watching the red-breasted robin tug at a worm.


Summer nights. The serape covers our young woman snuggled next to her lover – first of many -- in the bed of her pick-up truck under the Leonid sky.


Autumn approaches. The serape’s bold colors soften from sunlight and dust. Her blanket becomes a tablecloth for a bushel of roasted green chile – mothering hands slip off blistered skins. The heat burns, and her eyes tear, but she doesn’t stop her work.


Winter’s first snow falls. Alone, she walks the banks of the rio, serape mantled upon her shoulders to keep the cold from seeping into her bones. Her grey braid bisects the serape’s faded stripes.


The year 2012 comes to a close. La Señora Vieja sits near the fire, cradling a newborn as the sun rises.


This new child?


She’s got poetry in her soul, and a whirling spinning dance that’ll make you dizzy. Catch her hand as she turns round the sun, two-stepping into 2013.

Happy New Year, Albuquerque!

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