Yes it snows in New Mexico ... Tony Hillerman

Several years before I moved to Taos, I was introduced to Tony Hillerman's fascinating mysteries by a colleague. She lent me the first in the Navajo series and I continued collecting and reading these mysteries during my year long sojourn in New Mexico.

Now it appears Mr. Hillerman has died.

I own all the Hillerman books that detail events on the Navajo, and the wonderful trials of his main character, Joe Leaphorn. In addition to learning more, in a fictional fashion about the Navajo, the books healed an interior rift that occurred after a brief, but not pleasant experience I had driving through the Nation in 1992.

Alone, with half a tank of gas and no cash, I was turned away and sent in an easterly direction, a 400-mile drive into the Hopi. I was so tired when I reached any sign of light that I nearly collapsed in the arms of a Hopi woman who not only put me up in her guest house, but got me to the Community House to eat some rather rich but filling dinner. Fourteen years later, 2006, my friend Dorothy and I stayed at that same Community House and shared a much improved, but still heavily starched menu.

And although by the end of my quest in 1992, I knew more about the People and in particular the Pueblo, it was Hillerman's portrayal of the Navajo that opened my eyes to the subtle differences in culture. And later when I spent some considerable time among the Zuni, my ignorance dissipated and I was gifted with friendship and knowledge.

Here's a tribute to Tony Hillerman.

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