Monday, September 06, 2010

From 50/50 A letter to a place

Dear Santa Fe,

I’m in great need of a Santa Fe fix. I need to see mountains, desert covered with cedar breaks, antelope running along side Hwy 14 to Madras, smell pinon smoke in crisp cool air. I miss you and the friends you attracted years ago.

Remember when we first met? It was Christmas time 1975 and my mom had died the year before and we were all looking for a change of venue for the holidays. My pottery studio was up and running and I was anxious to visit some pueblos where the black burnished ware was made. My dad, Murph, drove up pulling his Airstream behind his Suburban and we followed with the van. Somehow we found a trailer park off Cerillos road close to downtown with a vacancy. It was getting chilly as we settled into camp. The Airstream had room for us all and I shopped for groceries to feed us for the next few days. Ken and the children were looking forward to some possible ski time so the first order of business after a good night’s sleep was to drive up to the ski basin and check it out….not much snow there but that was predicted to change.

Next we drove to the San Ildefonso pueblo, home of Maria Martinez, master potter, and her disciples. As we drove into the pueblo circling the outskirts, I smelled smoke and saw some rising from behind an adobe home and yelled for my dad to stop the truck. I hopped out and ran around to the back of the house and sure enough, a woman was tending the smoking of her son’s pottery…beautiful stuff with a turquoise stone set in the side. I was so excited and the woman must have thought I was nuts…I know my family did. But I just knew there was a potter back there somewhere. The woman talked to me briefly and I went into the pueblo center and bought a little burnished pot by Maria’s granddaughter. I was thrilled. Later that day we traveled to another pueblo and watched the Indians perform the Corn Dance. No one is allowed to take photos without permission (aka a fee paid) of the pueblo but we all had a great time.

The next day was Christmas Eve and it was getting really cold. Big white flakes began to fall at the trailer park. There was a family camping in a tent near us and I worried about them. I made a big batch of cookies in the trailer’s little oven and took a plate over to the tent when I saw the family return. How does one knock on the door of a tent? I called out “Merry Christmas” and someone peeked out. I handed over the cookies to a shocked mom and wished them all a great Christmas Eve. I think they were Jewish…oh well, they appreciated the thought.

Christmas Day arrived and Santa came bringing some fun toys for the kids and gifts were exchanged. Outside the snow was piling up and Ken and our 10 yr old son made plans to go up to the ski basin. I was terrified as we had no snow tires on the van. My daughter and I elected to stay home with my dad and do some more exploring in town. I worried the whole time they were gone but they were fine. Ken drove as far as he could toward the basin and when the snow got too deep, he pulled over, parked the van and he and Chris hitchhiked the rest of the way. They skied all day, caught a ride back to the van and drove in just in time for a hot dinner, tired and happy. I was quite relieved.

Thus began my love affair with you and New Mexico and I would return to you in the years to come but it was so special to share the first experience with those I loved the most.

Thank you for being you, maintaining the old square and offering a warm welcome to this Texan in need of some clean air and a mountain fix.

Fondly, Kay


Cheryl said...

Now I will have to visit Santa Fe one of these days!

Kristin said...

yes yes!! Thank you Santa Fe, and thank you Kay.

HA! I had to do it you know - your name rhymes and I'm corny like that.
This was a lovely lovely letter.

Lisa Reed said...

Well Kay! You must know this letter was timely for me, since we moved to Santa Fe 10 days ago. It's clear you understand the love affair we are having with this place!

DeAnne said...

You captured alot of Santa Fe that I treasure in memory. I was there earlier and met Maria and her brother as they worked in their yard which was sort of an open area in a compound of surrounding homes. Oh, those rolling red hills dotted with dark cedars and pinion pine. When I lived in LA I burned pinion pine incense to recapture the New Mexico mood. Ah, sweet memories.

Paula Cravens said...

OOh pick me to go with you! I can think of nothing better than investigating the galleries, watching them roast peppers and viewing cobalt sky.