What I mean is, we’ve started a vegetable and herb garden.
Puns aside, sorry for the month-long hiatus. After the drive out here, setting up the house, buying a car, managing the animals, starting new jobs, acclimating to the altitude (!) – we’ve finally established a kind of routine that leaves us still tired, but able to enjoy ourselves, each other, and the place around us.
I love my job. For an archivist, working with the New Mexico State Archives is engrossing. The materials date back to 1600 B.C., which doesn’t happen very often in the United States archives world. And the content is rich, sultry, and dramatic: Spanish Conquistadors, hangings, “soiled doves,” ghosts, railroad politics, uncharted wilderness, Old Mexico, and stories of Native Americans and pioneers. This stuff is much more my style than the courteous and sensible university archives (my previous place of employment, though I value it greatly).
Now, though I consider myself rather laid-back, adventurous and capable – living in Santa Fe has been and continues to be a cultural adjustment. As an example, I would like to cite a conference session I plan on attending this Friday, at the Historical Society of New Mexico Conference:
“Clothing Choices of Northeastern Women living in the American Southwest in the late Territorial Period,” which will discuss how “white frontierswomen in the unpredictable and unsettling New Mexico and Arizona Territories preserved their link to Northeastern civilization by their clothing choices.”
Which is to say, really, that it is difficult for prudish, Puritan-ish, New England women to adjust to this high desert life! I am trying to approach things I don’t easily understand (like no “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” on Saturday mornings) with aplomb and intelligence. I do believe that it is only good for a person to stretch her knowledge and boundaries. And while I think I’ve done a lot of that as a younger me (see: living in a campground in Arizona or a trailer in Maine), now I am doing it while still realizing and respecting my roots, my innate skills, and how I can help and learn from people.
…and sometimes a margarita helps, too!
A few observations of living in, what the locals call, “The City Different” :
- You cannot walk barefoot anywhere, including inside your own house, for fear of “goat heads” – horrible, tough, spiky burrs that look like – you got it – goat’s heads. They are the meanest plant-things I’ve ever met.
- I am an Anglo. Around here, this is common vocabulary for “white person.” I get the feeling it is not quite an insult, but can be.
- Santa Fe sits at 7,000 feet elevation – this can make breathing difficult, especially if you’re moving around a lot, it also causes fatigue and makes you (me) into a ridiculous, giggling tippler after one margarita.
- Chile cheese fries are topped with green chile sauce – not chili.
- Even though most people are of Spanish or Mexican descent, few are actually fluent in the Spanish language (most likely a result of Catholic schooling in the Territorial period and later). Though in New Mexico, Spanish is on par with English as an “official” language.
- It’s really okay to call Native Americans “Indians” here. Really?
- Santa Fe’s population contains a large number of: hippies, life-long traveler-itinerants (may be similar to hippies or people who are homeless), old people, and dogs. This makes for very interesting people-watching.
- blu 102.9 is easily the best dance station around.
- The landscape is colorful, mountainous, dry, sunny, soothing, amazing, bewitching.
- Most inhabitants have an accent Andrew and I have defined as “sort of Mexican-Minnesotan.” It’s catchy and strange.
- People are very interested in genealogy and family pedigree. DNA testing is common.
- Talking about ghosts, spirits, hauntings, signs and omens is as common as talking about what you had for lunch. I would say the supernatural is to New Mexico as the Red Sox are to New England. (Suits me.)
- Relatedly, I was asked what my sign was about 10 times in the first week we were here – and not in a pick-up line kind of way. One person at my work responded with, “Oh good, we needed a water sign.”
Next post will feature photos of our very own adobe abode – and said vegetable garden – if I can find my camera cord!