Visiting D.H. Lawrence

Saturday I drove north of Taos to visit the ranch where D.H. Lawrence once lived.  It wasn’t for a very long period of time but enough that people including me want to see where this literary superstar stayed and wrote. His ashes are even here — mixed in a block of cement inside his shrine or so the legend goes.
A little history: Lawrence and his wife Frieda’s first trip to New Mexico was in September 1922, when they were invited by Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy patron of the arts who settled in Taos. (Luhan brought other luminaries of the day such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams and Aldous Huxley.)  The Lawrences came three times to Northern New Mexico — staying a total of 11 months. On the second visit, Luhan gifted the ranch to Lawrence and Frieda, who held the deed. In return they gave her the manuscript for Sons and Lovers. 
After a four-year hiatus, the ranch, located in San Cristobal, is open to visitors. Manny, who greeted me, said I was the 15th visitor that day. It is not a drive for the unmotivated — the last leg is seven miles on a dirt forest service road, which admittedly is in better shape than many roads here. Watch out for cows wandering along the road.
The Homesteaders Cabin
Bedroom in the Lawrences’ cabin.
The ranch cabins where the Lawrences and their artist friend, Lady Dorothy Brett, lived are made of Ponderosa pine logs cut in the 1880s and adobe plaster. The Lawrences lived in the three-room Homesteader’s Cabin, and Brett in the one-room cabin, now dubbed the Dorothy Brett Cabin. Lawrence wanted to start a utopian society and Brett was the only one to take him up on his idea.
Memorial’s exterior
The memorial to Lawrence is a chapel-like building up a hill. After a dispute with Luhan and Brett over what to do with Lawrence’s ashes, the story goes Frieda mixed his ashes with wet cement in a wheel barrow and used it for his memorial altar. The altar has his initials and above it a statue of his personal symbol, the phoenix. Frieda is buried outside. 
Then there is the Lawrence tree. He wrote in long hand beneath this grand pine and O’Keeffe later memorialized it in her paining The Lawrence Tree. While here Lawrence wrote a short novel, St. Mawr, a biblical drama, David, and parts of The Plumed Serpent.
My own experience with Lawrence was reading his classics Lady Chatterly’s Love and Sons and Lovers in a one-room cabin with no running water or electricity in New Hampshire. But that is another story.

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