Notwithstanding its reputation for new age mysticism along its Santa Fe – Taos corridor, New Mexico is a land deeply rooted in religion. From the native belief system practiced by Pueblo and Navajo populations of long ago to the Roman Catholicism of the 16th century and on to the religious pluralism of today, New Mexicans are a devoutly religious populace imbued with a strong sense of family and place.
That “place” is one of wide open spaces, vast distances, and sudden and precipitous changes in elevation as land and roads rise to meet the knurled fingers of New Mexico’s many mountain ranges. Most days the air is clear and arid, making it hard to judge distances. A mountain that seems just over the next horizon can take hours to reach by speeding car.
The flatness of the plains, the ruler straight construction of most roadways, the ability to spot other cars (including patrol vehicles) from miles away, and the trick of light and perspective that makes even dangerously fast travel seem incremental sometimes combine to tragic effect.
If tragedy is an unfortunate but natural consequence of high speed travel along New Mexico’s roadways, so then are roadside memorials such as this monument to Eddie Bryan a natural manifestation of her people and their strong belief system, sense of familial duty, and reverence for place.
I don’t mean to imply that Eddie Bryan died due to excessive speed, or for that matter, through any fault of his own. I don’t even know that he was in a car when he passed. The one thing I do know about him is self-evident: he is loved and remembered.
Pentax K20D, 1/50 @ F13, ISO 200, 50mm.