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I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert: 6.7.09

I'm in Santa Fe--for work, nothing doing--but I did have a good 10 hours yesterday to knock around town. First of all, Big Country couldn't be more off. Growing flowers in the desert makes for excellent gardening. As always, the Southwest is popping with colors that my dull Eastern Seaboard palette is straining to take in, and a good many of them are straight from the flower beds. This morning, for example, I saw the most outstanding snapdragons ever. They are definitely going into my flower pots this summer. No hard feelings Big Country; you've probably had too many knickers beaned at your heads to know any better.

It's funny. There are more Provence-inspired stores here than you can shake a sagebrush at. Why you would want to fulfill your French-kitsch needs here, of course in addition to your Native American-schlock needs, is beyond me. But, maybe these merchants are on to something; in a weird way, it works. Having just been to Provence last summer, the Van Goch(ian) yellows and deep blues are still vivid. The Southwest's own decorating color scheme is not too far off. Although, here you've got this adobe brown backdrop to everything, which would be dullsville indeed were it not for the ever changing desert sky overhead that seems to imbue the green foothills and daube town with a limitless variation of hues and shadow.

I do love to visit this part of the U.S. of A. I had to smile at the memory of JB and I careening across the state to Rt. 10 to make it to Carlsbad Caverns before closing...and remembering my first time west of the...well, anywhere, out here with J. And I am kicking myself to see how close I am to Durango and wish I had thought this through more...But certainly, it's taken me probably way too long to not see anything even faintly mountain westerly and not feel little pings of sad nostalgia ringing off the inside of my eerily empty chest cavity, so very Tin Man of me.

But, look. 10 hours in Santa Fe is not too shabby. Here's what you should do. Go to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. Go to the Aztec Coffee Shop for a delish veggie sandwich and ice coffee. Wander around the Rail Yard District for a few minutes to smell the railroad ties in the sun and think about why this little town sprang up, and oh, don't forget the Harvey House girls. Santa Fe's Harvey House was the site of the Del Fonda Hotel. Stop in at the Double Take vintage store. I picked up an enamel blue coffee pot that makes me far too happy to own. You can celebrate with a beer and pool game at the Cowgirl BBQ and Bar like I did, and then, ramble back through the town's Plaza and do the gallery stroll and drool. Why is art so expensive? Go to Cafe DiPasquale's for a dinner with great atmosphere that doesn't allow you to sulk because you can't afford any art.

Anyway, aside from the air, which smells like hickory and mesquite and desert, and the sky, which you really shouldn't take your eyes off of long enough to cross the street, the great thing about this town is the friendly vibe. As I sat on the Aztec's patio smiling absurdly at the vibrant mural across the street and the little bungalow just beyond it that reminded of me of J's little one right back in B'more, I looked up at an entering patron, who smiled back and said hello. A few minutes later, I actually gave a slightly audible snicker at the description of the 30 second time machine skit concocted by the guy who did "The Hangover," (want to see) I was reading about in the NYT Magazine and the guy sitting next to me actually broke off from his conversation and, in a friendly not coffee house pick-up way, asked what was funny. Nice.

But one thing you should definitely not do is forget your camera as I did. Then you would have been able to snap some shots of: the Sante Fe Southern Railroad car spray painted blue and red against a momentarily deep grey overcast sky, the pouting flower girl leaning against the adobe wall in an aquamarine dress, and the strange and dusty man riding a horse down the Alameda with his dog tied in tandem by a ridiculously long cord of rope.

So, dear ether reader, you may be wondering why am I writing such a long and rambly post? Because I am incredibly bored, and to put a finer point on it, lonely. And, to elucidate further, if there is anything worse than feeling the paper-cut sting of loneliness, it is the sharper pain of feeling left out poured into your little wound like peroxide. It smarts. But more on that another time, perhaps.

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