The sky on the outskirts of Taos, N.M., that September afternoon was a drenched cerulean blue. The air was warm, caressing and scented with sage. I sat in bright sun in a parched meadow looking at the distant black ridge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. They looked mystical and Tolkien-like, reminding me of youthful reading trances and of my childhood belief in mystery and reward. Though it was a hot, beautiful day, I felt bereft and frozen.