The Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park rise without warning from the harsh Texas borderlands. No other mountains in the continental USA dare extend so far south, so deeply into the Chihuahuan Desert. Few other Texas peaks so boldly pierce the sky.
Some say the name “Chisos” comes from a Native American word for “ghost”; others insist the mountain range’s namesake is the Spanish hechizos, “enchantment”. Whatever the source of their name, these ghost mountains enchant the spirit.
At daybreak, the mountains shimmer with the special magic of desert mornings. In the desert, sunrise marks a time of grace, a respite from the night’s bitter cold and the day’s brutal sun. We drove up on them one October morning just as the yellow light of dawn seeped into the sky behind the line of mystic-blue peaks. Around a small bend in the seemingly endless park road from Marathon to Panther Junction, a party of Texas-tall sagebrush ambushed us. Every gray sagebrush wore a headdress of lilac blossoms, and the crisp air was giddy with fragrance.
We pulled off the deserted road, parked and spent some time captive to the enchanting blue-on-blue spirit mountains, soft yellow sunlight and aromatic sagebrush tossing bouquets of violet into the sky. Not a bad way to start the day.
When I paint a landscape such as this, I try to recapture the moment. I paint the feel of soft sunlight warming the desert after the night cold-soaked it, the pungent aroma released when you brush against shoulder-high sagebrush, the awe inspired by mountains bravely linking heaven and earth. When you look at this large pastel painting, I hope you feel that enchantment.
Ghosts can be friendly. Pause. Savor the moment and let these ancient elders shimmer into your spirit.
See more enchanting visions from Big Bend National Park and Far West Texas on my website any time of day.
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