Life in the Slow Lane

Day 145, Staying at Home

Friday, August 14, 2020; Santa Fe, New Mexico

“Can you believe we get to live here?”

My next-door neighbor was driving us to meet her friend for wine and tapas and stopped to exclaim as she crested a hill near our condos in Santa Fe. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains spread before us, the sun highlighting the distant aspen groves interspersed with tall evergreens. From the right angle you can see the runs of the Santa Fe Ski Area.

I was a bit chastised that after just a few weeks, the vista had become routine for me. Janet arrived in Santa Fe three years ago, and every day she voices her wonder that she is living amid this beauty.

My Santa Fe sojourn is half over, and time seems to be rushing by. But instead of feeling mildly guilty that I’m not bustling about sightseeing, I’m sitting back and enjoying the laziness of my days in this beautiful area.

After all, I came here for three months instead of a couple of weeks so I won’t feel like a tourist trying to squeeze everything into a short visit. And that’s a good thing, because during the pandemic many of Santa Fe’s tourist attractions and museums are closed.

Early mornings are my highlight. I sit on the patio, shaded by the building and wrapped in my robe against the cool temperatures. The sunlight slowly works its way down the hill on the other side of the arroyo, or dry creek bed, highlighting the adobe-colored houses interspersed with the sage, spruce, cottonwoods and ubiquitous scrubby piñon pines of the desert.

A charm of hummingbirds comes to visit at 7 a.m. I recently learned from cruise friend Joyce that a group of hummers is called a charm. I told someone recently that we had a murder in the arroyo. I had to explain that I was safe; no one had died. It was just a group of 20 or 30 cawing crows that swept in, settled in the trees for a few minutes, and then moved on up the creek bed. I have no idea why a group of crows is called a murder.

Back to the hummingbirds. I fall into a near hypnotic state while watching them. They know me well enough to buzz around my head and sometimes sip nectar from my hand. I’ve yet to train them to drink from my hummer ring, though.

I’m also going through bags of seed for the many other birds that visit the feeders on the edge of the bluff. Many are finches, and they like to hang on the thrift sock and eat through the net. I guess I’m too lazy to look up the others in the Birds of New Mexico book I keep handy. I do recognize the blue jays.

By late morning the air is usually hot and dry, so if I plan to walk it needs to be early. I’ve explored several paths through the nearby hills and arroyos. I have a choice of stopping to sketch or getting my heart rate up. Although sometimes at this altitude of 7,000 feet, even a stroll can lead to light panting when climbing the hills. Afternoons are for painting, shopping and exploring town – and sometimes for a nap.

It’s the monsoon season, but we seem to have left most of the rain in July. The late afternoon and evening storms can bring wind and cooler temperatures, making the covered patio a prime viewing site for lightning in the distance. Seldom does the rain actually fall right here. Sunsets from the patio can take my breath away.

My sister Eloise is coming to visit soon, so I’m saving excursions to Taos and other places of interest in this part of New Mexico for her visit. Connie, a Santa Fe resident and friend from my Grand Asia cruises, has introduced me to some local restaurants with outdoor seating and to the 15-mile drive through the Santa Fe National Forest up to the Santa Fe Ski Area. I went back on my own another day to sketch. A well-placed bench provided a great view – and a touching plaque.

My first visitors also are cruise friends from Grand Asia and the recent interrupted World Cruise. Barbara and Richard came to Santa Fe earlier this week in their large RV on the way from Texas to Montana and the Pacific Northwest. We’ve stayed in touch with weekly happy hour Zoom calls since the cruise ended in late March, but it was great to see them in person.

As you can see, not a lot has changed since I emerged from quarantine in mid July. I expect the second half of my time here to be busier, with Eloise visiting and perhaps more sites opened by September. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the serenity and natural beauty.

And I’m lucky I get to live here, if only for a few months.