Stan's Tuesday Walks

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


July 31 , 2001

I got up at 4:30 this morning, because the weather was too hot for me to stay in bed. When the temperature gets in the 90s, Santa Feans complain-but keep in mind that we are spoiled. Every time we take a trip to other parts of the world, we realize all over again how wonderful we really have it here. Most homes in Santa Fe do not have air-conditioning. Even the very expensive homes. When things get too hot, most of us have an old electric fan lying around, and that usually does the trick. Yet this year seems particularly hot. Some people say Santa Fe is going through a temperature change. Maybe they are right. Santa Fe is going through a lot of changes.

Approaching the Plaza shortly after 6 o'clock, on my normal Tuesday-morning walk, I started reading the signs of the businesses along the way. And suddenly it hit me-Santa Fe was changing from a big town into a small city. Although I had realized it before, I guess I had never stopped to think about it. This morning, however, I did.

In my "town" mentality, I was still picturing Santa Fe in terms of stores owned by local shopkeepers, plus the few big retailers such as Sears or J. C. Penney that can be found in every town of consequence in America. Yet now so many of the business names are those of chain operations: Borders, Eddie Bauer, J. Crew, Haagen-Dazs, Ann Taylor. And where Southwestern products once represented the norm, now stores selling products from other countries-Persian carpets, Kilim furniture-seem to stand on every other corner.

I passed one shop selling fancy Western clothing like the kind you would see performers wear on the Grand Ole Opry. The same store also featured leather plaques with the carved bust of Roy Rogers, leather-trimmed mirrors with cow horns mounted on top, and a lunch pail like we carried when I was a kid-only this one had "DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS" painted on the side. Gazing into this window, I thought to myself, "Maybe Santa Fe is headed for the last roundup." Maybe from the special town many of us remember, Santa Fe is evolving into a city. Maybe some of us who have been here a long time are finding it hard to make the adjustment. But was this bad? I wasn't sure.

A block north of the Plaza-where things have looked pretty much the same for many years, the area where the city administrative offices are followed by the federal building complex-I slipped back into my comfort zone. It was the Santa Fe of yesteryear, and at that early hour few tourists were out and about to dispel the illusion. In the calm of the morning, surrounded by familiar things, I began to compare the town of my memories to the city of today. And to my relief, I still found much to appreciate. The stores may have changed, but the skies we walk under while wandering the streets are still brilliant blue, the mountains that surround us are still pristine and restful, and the air we breathe is still fresh.

As I circled the federal building and headed back toward the core of our city, I realized that despite its growing pains, Santa Fe is still the place for me. It still has charm and tranquility. In my opinion it is probably the most cosmopolitan city of its size in the world, yet just outside of its boundaries the wonderful feeling of the out-of-doors still exists. And anytime I feel like grumbling about the weather, all I have to do is go somewhere else-—anywhere else—to be reminded of how good we've got it here.

Have a great day.

Stan

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