a float . . . a drift . . . a flight . . . a wing . . .

So I was in the middle of my "I'm back" run this morning when Art Garfunkel came on the ipod with this line and there I was crying my eyes out going up 140th street. If you ever see me going up 140th street and crying my eyes out, don't be alarmed because it is always a good thing. It means it's just all so beautiful.

Actually everything about my run wasn't so beautiful. I think we should add another line to the previously-mentioned-in-an-earlier-post Electric Six song that goes like this:
Everybody's jigglin' . . . what they shouldn't be jigglin' . . . everybody's jigglin' it in the middle of the street!

If you are a runner I hope you have had the experience of not running for at least a week but instead eating 10,000 calories per day and then returning to running. Because then you may know what I'm talking about. Things jiggle that didn't jiggle before your vacation.

But back to Art and my trip to New Mexico with my aging self and my aging family members:

A sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun
. . . it is night, it is death, the end of the run . . .

If you and I were to sit down together and have lunch (I need a great lunch because it's difficult coming off the 10,000 calorie diet cold-turkey), our conversation might go like this:

you: How was the Albuquerque balloon fiesta?

me: Everyone should go to the balloon fiesta once in their lifetime -- attendance mandatory. We went for the "mass ascension" on Saturday morning, and were lucky that the weather allowed them to take off because the first storm of the season was upon us by Saturday afternoon. We were blessed. On the way down from Santa Fe I was thinking, "this better be good" because you have to get up about 4:45 in the morning and as all insomniacs know, the sleep between 4am and 6am is sacred and must never be disturbed. But I'd give up all my sacred sleep forever to attend the balloon fiesta because it will make you cry later when you think about it on your run. It is 600+ balloons and there you are standing in the middle of them -- not watching from afar but watching them come up all around and over you.

There are many that are just plain round and beautifully colored and patterned, but there are also shapes and sizes you've never dreamed of in a hot air balloon.

While we stood an enormous stagecoach

a cow the size of a house

and a castle the size of a -- well -- a castle

came up at our feet and floated away above our heads. There were also two bumblebees that held hands all the time they were on the ground (cute!) but then somehow magically released each other and waved goodbye with their legs streaming out behind them as they floated merrily on their way. Everyone commented that it was odd the balloons were flying in the direction they went and assumed it was the wind of the storm that would come later, blowing in a different direction than it usually does. I just kept thinking of the wizard of Oz yelling down, "I can't come back -- I don't know how it works!"

They drift away (600+ of them) just as dawn breaks over the Sandia mountains and if you've ever been to NM, you know what a blue sky looks like. Just like hearing Jennifer Holliday sing at "Black Nativity," there's not much to do but stand there smiling with your mouth hanging open and cry a little (at least at balloon fiesta you can hide behind sunglasses). Then 600+ chase cars go find them and bring them back so they can do it again the next day.

But before the next day comes, they do the nighttime version which I didn't get to see this time (except on TV) so I will have to go again. All the balloons inflate and sit on the ground, lighting their fires on and off so that the whole thing is an enormous light show of luminous color -- a river of gigantic blinking balloons. That one I'd like to see from a little ways off, to get the full effect.

you: How was dinner at the Rancho de Chimayo?

me: Burned. Not the dinner, but the Rancho. When we pulled up to the gates, they were chained and locked which we thought odd since we thought we had a reservation. There was a little handwritten sign saying "closed due to fire." In the paper we later read that it will be closed at least until April because they will have to strip it down to the adobe. I hope it is ever the same again because I plan to celebrate many upcoming important family events there. You know, 50th anniversary and stuff like that.

you: What did you do instead?

me: Well, we had taken the high road back from Taos (so we could stop at the Rancho), so first we had to pull over so my sister could throw up (when you are grown up you forget things from your childhood like that your sister gets terribly carsick and should have been in the front seat from the beginning), then we went to a lovely dinner at La Fonda with its twinkling lights and gaily painted windows, where I had the shredded beef enchiladas with green chile and a key lime tart that was simply amazing. My sister recovered completely and had the fajitas, which would have made me jealous with their beautiful presentation and delicious aroma, if I hadn't been so busy with my shredded beef. Tableside guacamole, of course.

you: Is that the full Santa Fe restaurant report?

me: No, of course not. The pancakes at Tortilla Flats were as big as my head and full of pancake perfection (you can't get sopapillas before 11am). The Plaza Cafe has a new menu, but not to worry -- the meatloaf is still there. And Gabriel's was Gabriel's, which is probably part of why I was crying today. The guacamole thing -- and of course the sopapillas. I really like food.

you: Did you bring back some of those chips?

me: Of course I did! You can come over if you want some -- Russ will share. (If you don't know what chips I'm talking about, call me before your next trip to NM.)

I didn't know you were going to Taos.

me: Neither did I. But we took the low road up and it was spectacular all along the river with the leaves changing (I'd have stopped for a lovely autumn lunch by the river at Embudo, but there are only so many meals in a day.) Then there's that place where you crest the hill and you look across and it looks like someone has carved the Rio Grande into the earth with a giant knife, zig-zagging away as far as your eye can see. Always magnificent. And the Taos pueblo was open (which never seems to happen) so I got to go there for the first time and it was a remarkable experience.

I had one of those moments standing in the little church there, which is the newest thing on the pueblo (1850) and full of a feeling of importance -- of the past, of beliefs, of reverence for culture, of a people who are living a vastly different life from mine into which I could only peek.

you: Was the Taos wool festival really going on while you were there?

me: Yes, isn't it amazing? And of course I also stopped at La Lana for some supplies. I was fortunate because this is the only time of year they can dye with Lupine so I got a rare and beautiful green, among other treasures.

you: How was it being with your family?

me: There was a family crisis while we were there which had to be dealt with long distance, and that inspired many conversations about childhood and the nature of family (particularly ours) and what might have been but also what actually is, and it all felt painfully lovely but wistful and fleeting.

Parents don't last forever.

you: Did you buy any great souvenirs?

me: I bought a marvelous piece of pottery at a wonderful place I've never been before.

It's a brilliant yellow cup with a black rim and a black and white titmouse perched on a spray of red berries. I believe I shall buy a small cactus to keep in it and put it somewhere in a sunny window for the winter.

you: Well I guess I can see why Art (Garfunkel) was making you cry today.

me: Yes . . . a sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun . . . and then there's such a nice ending: It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart. It was just another perfect trip to the Land of Enchantment. But coming home is wonderful too.

you: When are you going to start working for the New Mexico tourism board?

me: Why, do you know of any openings?!


Jake and Chelsea said...

all of these new mexico blogs might let out the secret, mom, and although i know it's selfish...i want santa fe to myself! okay, okay, maybe a few people can find out, but i get to be part of the selection committee.

i am so glad that you had a wonderful time, and as jealous as i am that you had GABRIEL'S, i just have to wait for my turn in santa fe.

i cannot wait for your blog post about visiting vermont!

susan m hinckley said...

I can't wait to visit Vermont because it sounds like you are putting together quite a tour for anyone lucky enough to come. You could turn traitor and give up the great Southwest for the Northeast . . . that would be okay. We all get to choose our own happy place.

Jessie said...

oooh, i'm envious of the new wool! i took your advice and got a bunch of sweaters from savers and that's working out well. but i still don't have a very wide color selection. but anyway - glad you had a good time in NM. (though MN is my happy place)

april said...

drool. drool. green. envy.

that air balloon is amazing; those wools look beautiful. glad you had a good time. remington has been keeping me company. thanks.

Amanda and Christopher said...

Wonderful pictures, it looks and sounds like it was magical! It was so great to be able to spend some time with you!!

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