Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Palm Sunday in Santa Fe

It was about 10:30 a.m. when I heard an enthusiastic if not entirely accurate trumpet version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and a few faint voices singing along coming from the direction of the normally quiet street outside. That got my attention.

I opened the front door to see the end of a procession of perhaps twenty elderly women, each no taller than 5’2″, holding palm branches, trailed by one frail man who looked to be in his 90s aided by a younger man in his late 70s, all following the man blowing the trumpet.

I leaned against the wall to watch.

I guessed they had walked from the church less than a block away. When the church was built in the 1950s, this area was a barrio, a closely knit community of people who, on hearing the clarion call of the trumpet, would have emerged from their homes and happily joined the merry band of palm waivers.

They were five houses down from me when they all stopped. The leader announced, “I guess we can’t wake them up. No one is coming out.” Just as he completed that sentence, his eyes met mine and he bellowed, “Except for her!” All eyes turned to look at me. With big smiles on their faces, the group did a slow pivot, held those palms high, and sang a rousing, “Alle alle luuuuuia! Alle alle luuuuuia”  as they converged around me. Several handed me their palms. When the song was over, we exchanged greetings and hugs for a happy Palm Sunday. Then the leader fired up another round of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and they were off toward the church with renewed energy.

I wish the people in the neighborhood had flung open their doors and joined in the spirit of the procession. I truly do. But I was graced with all the smiles and love they hoped to give to many that Palm Sunday, and I was moved.

Hallelujah!

I Salute A Few of My Favorite Santa Fe Businesses

Santa Fe is a town largely comprised of local, privately owned businesses whose owners work darn hard for their money. It is a tough town. On this last day of 2015, I want to thank just a few of the local business owners who enriched my life this year, first by their heartfelt presence in this community and second by the services and products they offer.

First up, The Video Library. The Vid was opened by owner/operator/counselor/cat activist/chocolate chip cookie lover  Lisa Harris and buyer Casey St. Charnez in 1981, the very first video store in the state of New Mexico. You can find mainstream releases as well as rare, out of print and hard to find movies. And you will find Lisa, who has one of the biggest hearts on the planet, and her great staff who are all walking encyclopedias of cinema, ready to offer suggestions that fit your mood. Go. Browse. Chat. Rent.

Downtown Subscription, located a block from Canyon, has great coffee, pastries, the best selection of magazines in Santa Fe, a front patio where you can bring your dog and a back patio with a fountain and lovely flowers. And they have the nicest team of baristas. On Sundays I often buy my New York Times, order a cappuccino and sit for an unseemly length of time reading the paper and inevitably chatting with someone I never met before. Before heading home, I head to Garcia Street Books which is located on the other side of the wall from DTS. A real bookstore where you can browse, ask folks what they are reading and discover the exact book you needed that day but had never heard of five minutes before you walked into the place. Amazon is not the be all and end all, folks.

Kristin Mader, muse/proprietor/artist/creative spirit/witty woman of Wild Hare salon,  patiently and beautifully tends my mass of hair with a smile on her face, no small feat. The salon is gorgeous with its crystal chandelier and art, the staff is talented and the products smell delightful. Kristin and Wild Hare are simply the best. Anywhere.

Ranger owns the New Old Trail Garage. He has been praying over and maintaining my 1998 Ford Explorer since I road into town in, well, 1998. Where else can you drive up as I did Tuesday, ask him to please check the antifreeze level (it just occurred to me after two weeks of freezing cold) and replace the wiper blade I accidently shredded when I ripped it too vigorously from the icy windshield, and the owner stops what he is doing and does it, plus checks the tires and adds more windshield wiper fluid. And he neither shames me nor charges more than a fair fee.

When I go to the Farmers’ Market, I buy from farmers who are now my friends. They picked the flowers or lettuce or spinach and boxed the eggs or made the bread the day before. No vegetables grown in South America wrapped in plastic. Farm to table, a community.

Rand and Cindy Cook, two of the nicest people I know, own The Candyman Strings & Things, which really has become a little community center. They were named (drum roll) Dealer of the Year at the National Association of Music Merchants Top 100 Dealer Awards. Number One in the entire US! And they are right here in Santa Fe! They have everything you could want from guitars and drums and amps and keyboards to ukuleles, one of which has my name on it, and classes to learn how to play your chosen instrument. The staff will help you select the instrument for you or yours. Check out their Summer Rock Camp, too, and all of their other services on their website. They can also work with you over the phone.

I thank Harry’s Roadhouse for the occasional hit of cheese enchiladas drenched in red and green chile, aka Christmas. I leave a happy woman.

And on a personal note, I thank all of my writing students for sitting around my table and sharing their unique stories. I think it is an act of bravery as well as creativity. I thank all the clients who have trusted me to edit their manuscripts and those who have asked me to write their stories for them. It is my honor, my privilege, my delight.

Story Telling 101 This Saturday!

Not too late to sign up for Story Telling 101 this Saturday. Details below.

 

STORY TELLING 101

Ray Wylie Hubbard: Sunday, January 26 in Santa Fe

When Drew Scott, the author of Memoir Monday’s “Me, Dale and Buttermilk,” first walked into my writing class many months ago, he brought with him a copy of a cd  he compiled and  titled “Poets.” The disc includes music sung by Guy Clark, Patty Griffin, Sam Baker, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Ray Wylie Hubbard. As it turns out, fellow Texan Ray Wylie Hubbard is a friend of Drew’s as is seemingly half of Texas, but that is another story.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the cuts on Drew’s cd, but was particularly taken by Hubbard’s “Dallas After Midnight” and “Snake Farm,” which according to Drew was inspired by a real snake farm Hubbard drove past on a regular basis.

The reason I am bringing this up is Ray Wylie Hubbard is playing this Sunday at the St. Francis Auditorium at 7:30 P.M.  How fun is that.

I called Drew to ask for his description of Hubbard and his music. He first offered that Texas Music Magazine recently had him on the cover, dressed in a saffron colored robe with the caption “Wylie Lama.” So evidently Hubbard has a sense of humor and wit.

Drew describes him as a cross between Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, but ultimately unlike anyone he has ever known: “He can extract so much color from something that seems colorless.”

Ray Wylie Hubbard must be a poet.

For ticket information, click here.