09 January 2012

Descanso 1 (9/366)

Descanso (1999), Socorro County, NM, Jan. 2012
Descanso is a Spanish word that means "resting place" and refers commonly to a roadside cross or other tribute set up to memorialize a loved one's untimely death. In most states personal roadside memorials are forbidden or regulated and standardized, but in New Mexico descansos are ubiquitous and highly personal. The tradition has deep roots here, arriving with the earliest Spanish settlers in the 1500s, and is respected as part of the local heritage. I pass a dozen or more descansos on my twice-weekly commute to Albuquerque for internship, and I keep thinking I should stop and photograph them to document this local tradition. Today I decided to start with this one about 20 miles from home, which I pass going down and back up the steep, winding hill between Magdalena and Socorro. It is a sobering reminder of life's fragility but also a tribute to the beauty of our love for each other.

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