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D.H. Lawrence Society of North America

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Nomination Appendix 2:  (Letter)

National Register Nomination for the D.H. Lawrence Ranch

LETTER FROM D.H. LAWRENCE TO NIECE, MARGARET KING

 

Del Monte Ranch.  Questa.  New Mexico

                                                   31 August 1924

My dear Peg

      We got back from the Hopi Country last Monday‑‑I'll probably write an article on the dance.  ["The Hopi Snake Dance"]  But how I hate long distance trips in motor‑car‑‑so tiring!  We went about a thousand milesaltogether.

     You ask me what we grow on the ranch:  Nothing.  There is a big clearing, on which the old owners used to grow alfalfa, and we call it the alfalfa field (it's a sort of clover, alfalfa, blue, grows tall and thick).  Forty years ago a man came out looking for gold, and squatted here.  There was some gold in the mountains.  Then he got poor, and a man called McClure had the place.  He had 500 white goats here, raised alfalfa, and let his goats feed wild in the mountains.  But the water supply is too bad, and we are too far from anywhere.  So he gave up.  Mabel Luhan bought the place for $1200 six years ago, and let it go to rack and ruin.  Now she traded it to Frieda for the MS. of Sons and Lovers.  Every one is very mad with me for giving that MS.  The ranch was worth only about $1000, and the MS of Sons and Lovers worth three or four thousand‑‑so everybody says.  But I don't care.

      I'll draw you a little plan of the place:

                 [sketch of ranch‑‑SEE APPENDIX]

      We have only one little spring of water‑‑pure water‑‑that will fill a pail in about 3 minutes:  it runs the same summer and winter.  If we want to grow anything, we must water, irrigate.  Maclure used to bring the water in a made ditch, over deep places by wooden runnel bridges, for nearly 3 miles:  from the Gallina Canyon.  Then, from the house canyon, he brought it down two miles.  It's very difficult, though, in a dry country with dry gravelly soil.  You can't bring much flow, so far:  and in summer very often none.  So we leave the ranch quite wild—only theres abundant feed for the five horses.  And if we wanted to take the trouble, we could bring the water here as Maclure did, and have a little farm.‑‑There's quite a lot of land, really‑‑it say 160 acres, but it takes a terrible long time to go round the fence, through the wild forest.‑‑We got lots of wild strawberries‑‑and we still get gallons of wild raspberries, up our own little canyon, where no soul ever goes.  If we ride two miles, we can get no farther.  Beyond, all savage, unbroken mountains.

     We get our things from Taos‑‑17 miles‑‑either by wagon or when someone is coming in a car.  Our road is no road‑‑a breaking through the forest‑‑but people come to see us.  Every evening, just after tea, we saddle up and ride down to Del Monte Ranch, for the milk, butter, eggs, and letters.  The old trail passes this gate, and the mailman, on horseback, leaves all the mail in a box nailed on a tree.  Usually we get back just at dark.  Yesterday we rode down to San Cristobal, where there is a cross‑roads, a blacksmith, and a tiny village with no shop no anything, save the blacksmith‑‑only a handfull of Mexicans who speak Spanish‑‑we went to get Frieda's grey horse‑‑the Azul‑‑shod.  They call him in Spanish el Azul‑‑the Blue.‑‑During the day there's always plenty to do‑‑chopping wood, carrying water‑‑and our own work:  some times we all paint pictures.  Next week the Indian Geronimo is coming up to help me mend the corral, and build a porch over my door, and fix the spring for the winter, with a big trough where the horses can drink.  I want a Mexican to come and live here while we are away:  to keep the place from going wild, squirrels and bushy‑tailed pack‑rats from coming in, and to see the water doesn't freeze for the horses.  It gets very cold, and snow often knee deep.  Sometimes, for a day or two, no getting away from the ranch.  

     There, I hope that's all you want to know.  

     I hope your exam went well.‑‑As for Wembley, I don't a bit want to go there.  But London can be fascinating.  

      So glad you like your new house:  we had the photographs.  I must send you some photographs of here.

     I haven't heard from your Aunt Ada at Ripley for so long.  Is anything wrong there?

                                                                                                    Love to you all.     DHL

      The autumn is coming, very lovely.  The alfalfa field is all mauve and gold, with dark michaelmas daisies and wild sunflowers.  I send a pound each for you and Joan.

 

The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, Vol. 5, ed. James T. Boulton and Lindeth Vasey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 110‑112.