Wow, it must be getting
close to spring, because not only did I wake up very early this
morning, I awoke eager to get going on my Tuesday walk. By 5:30
I was hot to trot. But then I called to check the temperatureand
when I found out that it was only 18 degrees, I decided to read
the newspaper until 6. I think that what inspired me this morning
was watching the recent Olympic efforts of U.S. athletes such
as Jim Shea, Apolo Ohno, Bode Miller, Sarah Hughes and all the
So minutes before
6, I was on my way. After just a few minutes, however, the cold
made me sorry I hadn't worn a stocking cap instead of a baseball
cap. By the time I got to the Sage Bakery, a block and a half
from home, my ears and cheeks were freezing. Yet the aroma of
the freshly baked breads kept me going, imagining the treat
I would give myself when I reached the French Pastry Shop in
But, boy, was it
cold! I was well past the Plaza and almost at the Federal Building
complex before my body started to warm up. Near the old St.
Vincent Hospital, I saw one of the regular early-morning customers
of the French Pastry Shop heading in its direction. I had never
seen him other than there. Coffee time? I asked
in my surprise. Yup, he answered.
This fellow is one
of the characters who frequent the shop every morning, and Ive
written about him before. He is a smoker and an interesting
study. The restaurant does not allow smoking, so this man drinks
a swig or two of coffee, then slips outside for a couple of
drags off a cigarette, in between coughs and gags. He then throws
the cigarette away, goes back inside and starts the process
He headed on toward
the restaurant, and I headed on toward the old hospital, somewhat
miffed that this man was going to be enjoying the warmth, coffee
and pastries before me. To console myself, now that I was warm,
I picked up my pace and again thought about Shea, Ohno and the
rest of those marvelous Olympic athletes and what they had accomplished.
Maybe I should specialize
in an athletic category and see how far I could advance, I told
myself. Maybe I should create a new event, like the Slow
Walkabout. Kind of a Crocodile Dundee thing. I would be
good at that. Maybe good enough for the Olympics. You can see
how silly I was getting. Finally I reached the French Pastry
Shop, where I flopped down into a chair, tired and cold.
Waiting for the waitress,
I saw the smoker fellow talking to another of the restaurants
regular characters, a guy with a long beard and long hair. He
wears a leather cowboy hat with feathers stuck in the top, much
like the street person I told you about last week. In fact,
this fellow is not all that far removed from a street person.
He has lived in a
camp on public land in the mountains above Santa Fe for a number
of years. His camp is about three miles off the road to the
Santa Fe Ski Basin. He doesn't have a car, so he hitchhikes
a ride to and from the closest point on the road to his camp,
and walks the rest of the way. He must rise very early in the
morning, for he is usually at the pastry shop by the time I
get there, between 6:45 and 7.
I have observed these men off and on for a year or so, just
because I found them interesting. But today I overheard that
the one with the beard and long hair is a substitute teacher.
You can imagine my surprise. The two were discussing the fact
that in the budget that the state Legislature wants the governor
to approve (which he probably won't), there is no money for
a pay raise for teachers. "We teachers have been getting
the same salary four years now," the bearded fellow said.
Paying my bill, I
quietly asked the restaurant owner if the bearded guy really
was a teacher. He confirmed that it was true. Once again I was
taught not to judge a book by its cover.
Walking home with
a loaded stomach, I wished I hadn't been so enthusiastic about
my walk and its pastry reward. My mind kept jumping between
the Olympians and the substitute teacher. I decided that maybe
my lifestyle was somewhere in between. A tiny bit of athleticism
and a whole lot of pastry. I even have a little beard.
Have a great day.