Since my return to Santa Fe nearly two months ago, the city of Boston has received more than 100 inches of snow and suffered from the harshness of brutal temperatures that seem unshakable. When I left for New Mexico, our still budding winter could be called "mild," with an enthusiasm that was premature. All the trials of a true and proper New England winter have been realized since then, and no doubt will continue to be experienced through the beginning of March. It has been beautiful at times, but in a city, winter is more annoying than anything else. It's quite a shame.
In Santa Fe, however, winter could be revered. The delicious, intoxicating smell of piñon wood wafted through the town from the start of the day to its end, just as we knew it would. It's an aroma I wish we could live with each day (or at least each winter) here in the Northeast. I can't imagine ever tiring of it. It's the type of smell which kindles a sense of fulfillment. Though we were a few weeks past Christmastime, the luminarias were still lit each evening atop the adobe buildings. It's a reason alone to visit Santa Fe in the winter months. My neighborhood in Pittsburgh had an attachment to lighting luminarias on New Year's Eve, and they've always had a spellbinding effect on me. I thought they might be gone in Santa Fe by Martin Luther King's weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Crowds were few but eager, and at times we felt we had the town to ourselves. During the days, the sun shone like it was a proud duty to uphold. As soon as it set behind the mountains, the fires were lit and we exchanged our sunglasses for shivers. 50 degree temperatures during the day relinquished themselves to what felt like more New England nights, with highs only in the teens. Winter seemed civilized. We could enjoy our few, but precious days of visiting Bandelier, horseback riding, and shopping near the Plaza, without the burden of cold that is a daily reality here in Boston. Yes, it was cold at night, but only appropriately so. The mountains needed their presence to be felt in the dark, when we could no longer see their peaks. We only had the pleasure of a few days, but they were surreal ones, dominated by a landscape that inspires almost an immediate forgetfulness of our daily realities. The airplane rides back were painful ones. And then came our 100 inches of snow.
Cheers to New Mexico, then, and to spring, should it ever choose to arrive.