This morning I got
up about 5 a.m., as usual, and went through the routine of getting
ready for my walk. I usually stretch a little, holding my arms
over my head for the count of three, then bend my knees about
15 degrees a couple of times. Then I head out.
My neighbor, who usually joins me, had been out of town visiting
an uncle in Montana, and I assumed he was still gone. When I
went to bed last night he was not home, but when I stepped out
of the house at 6 oclock, there he was, waiting for me.
He was looking at his watch as if to say, "I don't think
Stan gets up and walks when I'm not in town." Well, we
were both surprisedI that he was back in town, he that
I got up.
Just before leaving the house I called to check the temperature,
which was 61 degrees. As the two of us took off, the skies looked
like rain was a real possibility. Here in Santa Fe, that is
always a blessing, and as we walked, we hoped that it would
rainbut that it wouldn't happen until we were through
with our walk.
The smell of rain
in the air is special in Santa Fe, as I'm sure is true in any
area that normally has low humidity. Its a pungent aroma
that seems to perk up everything and everybody. All the pressures
that many of us feel seem to temporarily disappear.
Not too many years
ago, when Indian Market, which occurs on a weekend in mid-August,
ended, the tourist season in Santa Fe was pretty well over.
Indian Market is a gathering of Native American artists who
come together to sell their work on the Plaza. It is Santa Fes
biggest tourist weekend of the year. Usually about 100,000 people
come to view and buy the art. It's an event well worth attending,
but if you plan to come, make your hotel reservations early,
because there will not be one room available that weekend.
Anyway, 10 days had
passed since Indian Market, but as my neighbor and I walked
by the various hotels in downtown Santa Fe, there was still
noticeable evidence of many tourists being in town. Some of
our city's visitors were also doing an early walk around the
Plaza, and we greeted each other as we met.
I guess the combination
of the smell of rain and the tourists reminded of a time when
Santa Fe was much quieter in late August. In those days, Fiestas,
on the Labor Day weekend, was our last big event of the year.
Although some tourists and visitors came to it, Fiestas was
really a local celebration, commemorating the peaceful reconquest
of Santa Fe by the Spaniard Don Diego de Vargas after the Pueblo
Revolt of 1680. After Fiestas, we Santa Feans reclaim the town
Fiestas was a three-day affair, and the whole town got in good
spirits for it. Fiestas started on Friday noon, which usually
called for my friends and me to go to the Plaza and start our
celebration by eating a green chile hamburger. At this time
of year the chile is harvested and the pods are green, and it
is the only time of year when you can eat fresh green chile.
The green chile is generally roasted before it is eaten, but
many of the food stands on the Plaza during Fiesta simply chop
up the green pod and put it on the hamburgers without cooking
it. It is like eating green apples.
After eating the
green chile hamburgers, we usually went to the La Fonda hotel,
which is on the southeast corner of the Plaza, and had a margarita
or three to start off our Fiesta weekend right.
On Friday evening,
a large crowd gathered at our high school football field to
watch the burning of a large effigy called Zozobra. It is a
doll, maybe 50 feet tall, made of white paper with a painted
face. It looks something like a monkey and is surrounded by
fireworks at its base. After much growling and carrying on,
it is set on fire and the fireworks explode. With Zozobras
demise, all of your sins are gone for the year, and therefore
you have a cause to celebrate. With that in mind, the crowd
headed down to the Plaza to make the most of their cleansed
In those days, any
person you encountered on the Plaza after Fiestas was almost
always another Santa Fean. The time after Fiestas was a celebration
in itself, because we Santa Feans came out of our shelters and
reconquered our town, just like Don Diego de Vargas.
Now the tourist season lasts all year long.
our walk, my neighbor and I stopped at the Farmers Market for
a cup of coffee and some wonderful pastry. Walking through the
market, we passed a stand selling green chile. With memories
of Fiestas gone by fresh in my mind, I bought a small basket
of green chile, with the anticipation of making hamburgers at
home this evening. Hey, whats wrong with getting a little
head start on this years Fiestas?
Have a great day.