Stan's Tuesday Walks

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

I generally take a walk between 5:30 am and 6:00 am, and not only is it good exercise, but it gives me time to plan my day and just plain think about anything that is important to me at the moment. I enjoy these walks so much that I decided I would share them with you visitors and see what you thought. - Stan Evans

February 26 , 2002

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 temperature—and 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 others.

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 La Fonda.

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 I’ve 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 over again.

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 restaurant’s 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. We teachers!

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.


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