Stan's Tuesday Walks

A Weekly Feature
by Stan Evans,
President, Santa Fe Always Online

October 2, 2001

When I awoke this morning the temperature was in the mid-40s, which is nice for walking, but the time was only 4:30. Even for me, that’s a little early, so I picked up a “whodunit” book to get my mind in gear. Usually this works to wake me up, but today just the opposite happened. After only a few pages I was sleepy again, so back to bed I went—only to discover that all I could do was toss and turn. After about 30 or 40 minutes of that, I finally got up for good.

At 10 minutes to 6, walking solo this week because my neighbor is out of town, I headed off for the Plaza. I decided to walk along Grant Avenue today, so I could visit “The General.” That’s my name for a huge cottonwood tree along the sidewalk of Grant Avenue, which, of course, is named for Civil War Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

I’m not sure, but I think The General may be the largest cottonwood along any street in Santa Fe. Whenever I’m in its vicinity I always snap to attention and walk a little straighter. As usual, my visit this morning was a respectful one. Standing under The General’s leafy magnificence, which later in the day would dispense a wide, cool shade for everyone to enjoy, I contemplated all the generations of people that this proud old tree had seen come and go.

After a final “salute,” so to speak, I left The General and pushed on. There was another tree I wanted to visit.

Earlier this summer I had noticed a small tree with tiny branches, trying its utmost to create shade for passers-by. It had been planted outside a building across the street from the Loretto Chapel. Even the bark on The General was thicker than the full diameter of this little tree—but after all, The General had quite a head start. I figured I’d just say hello to the little fellow on my way home.

Twenty minutes later I was at the Loretto Chapel. But where the little tree had been, nothing remained but a knurled stick. A stick that looked like it had been twisted by some mighty force that wanted to express its wrath. The little tree had never gotten the chance to live its life.

Now, I'm usually not sentimental, but I had assumed that the little tree was going to be around for a long time, and maybe someday replace The General as Santa Fe’s grandest shade-giver. But it was not to be.

This was kind of a sad note, and I needed something to lift my spirits. Suddenly I saw a penny lying in the street. Whenever I run across such pennies, I stop and pick them up—not for the monetary value, but because they’re supposed to bring good luck. But before I could make my move, I noticed two women walking toward me. And instead of picking up the penny, I just continued walking along. Maybe it was because I didn’t want the women to think I was so broke that needed the penny. Maybe it was because the fate of the little tree seemed like too much bad luck for one penny to overcome, and I didn’t want to lose my belief in a penny’s power. Whatever the reason, I left the penny where it lay.

But maybe I just didn’t have enough faith. Maybe tomorrow I'll go back and get that penny, make a wish—and the next time I see the little tree, it will be back on the job, valiantly offering shade to grateful people passing by, getting ready for the day when it takes over for The General.

Have a great day.


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