Sunday, December 9, 2012

Maybe Some Snow?

Snow at Christmas, 2011 (not our house, but one nearby)

We're told that rain is on the way today and snow tonight -- most probably... But we'll believe it when we see it. Climate change has moved weather patterns mostly to the north, and that has meant that dry and mostly warm weather has persisted in our area well into December.

We went to a number of events yesterday in Albuquerque in shirtsleeve weather -- it was very pleasant, delightful really. We're into the second week of December, daytime temperatures are still in the 60's, and it's not that cold at night, sometimes dipping into the 20's. Tonight, though, the temps may get down to zero in our area, teens and single digits elsewhere. And... there is supposed to be snow...

We did some Indian Business in the morning (monthly township meeting and Christmas Party) and then took care of a good deed for one of our long time New Mexico friends who's been laid up for a while thanks to age and the physical deterioration that goes with it. She's got family, thank the gods, but I tell you, it's tough when various limbs and joints and stuff start falling to pieces and you're stuck behind a walker and you have to rely on whoever can help at the moment just to get some food in the house and a set of clothes washed. We took her her mail that had been building up out here in the country while she languishes in Albuquerque. While we were visiting, her daughter and son-in-law came by with sacks of groceries, and the dogs were thrilled that there were so many people around and something good would wind up on their plates. It's getting close to Christmas.

Then we were off to a booksigning in the North Valley featuring Rudolfo Anaya -- one of New Mexico's treasured writers and institutions -- and his new children's book, "How Hollyhocks Came to New Mexico" which is just an absolute delight, and perfect for Christmas giving. But we'll keep our copy, thank you very much!

The entire book team was there -- Los Lunas santero Nicolas Otero who did the exquisite illustrations, and Nasario Garcia who translated the English language story Anaya wrote into idiomatic New Mexico Spanish, which fits the project perfectly. Anaya himself is always a treat, hollyhocks, of course, are practically the state flower, and naturally, once again we wound up yabbering away with some of those waiting patiently in the long line as if we were lifetime friends. In a spiritual sense, perhaps we are. I don't know exactly how it works, but something draws them to us and us to them, and there it is.

The previous day we'd been to the Christmas at the Palace open house in Santa Fe, something we'd intended to do for years and never quite managed. It was your basic holiday community party, with -- of course -- that Santa Fe twist, in this case the chance to print your own Christmas card on the Palace Press. What fun. The Palace of the Governors has a wonderful santos display that I've been drawn to every time I've been there. There are dozens and dozens of characteristic New Mexico santos that have been collected from all over the state and assembled in a gorgeous exhibit in a side room of the Palace by the bookstore and in an adjacent chapel. In another room, there was a portrait of sour-faced Archbishop Lamy -- who attempted to forbid the further production and display of these "primitive" sculptures and paintings of the Saints, Our Lady, and Our Lord, saying something to the effect that they were "unworthy" of the dignity of the Church. Yes, well. That didn't go so well. It went something like the efforts of previous churchmen in New Mexico to forbid the religious  totems and icons of the Indians. Sure. Just try it. Right.

Lamy is a curious character in every way, but he is characteristic in many ways of the characters who come out to New Mexico from wherever -- in his case, France -- and make a splash for good or ill in this quirky little mountain and high plains land where a river runs through it -- "so close to Texas and so far from God (or Heaven as the case may be)".

Another one of these churchmen is Father Roca out at Chimayo who came from Italy and has spent his life transforming the Santuario into what has been called the Lourdes of America. What it's called and what it is are two entirely different things, but I guess that that's beside the point. We take it all with a grain of salt. I don't doubt the many reports of healings at Chimayo; faith can do wonderful things. For a place that is considered to be so holy, however, those who care for it and welcome its pilgrims -- and the many just-plain-folks like us who visit -- are very down to earth. We were greeted at the door by Father Roca himself when we went to Chimayo some years ago, and because there were no crowds that day, he was happy to show us around and regale us with stories and blessings. Bless his heart. You don't get that at Lourdes, nor do you have the place almost all to yourself. Do you? ;-)

We took dinner at the Plaza Cafe after enjoying Christmas at the Palace festivities. An "angel" passed by as we were getting ready to leave the Palace. She offered me a basket of blessings, and asked me to take one. I picked this one out:

Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Psalm 46

Of course...

At the Plaza Cafe, we were amid what seemed like hundreds of children, some of whom were remarkably well behaved. Others, such as the ones at one of the tables next to us, were almost as ill-behaved as their parental units. Part of it was that it was Dad's Weekend With the Children, I'm sure. Much of their food and drink wound up on the floor somehow. Hm. I wonder how that happened. Shoes were found scattered hither and yon; the staff collected them and offered them up to the parents for distribution among the little ones; as always seems to be the case, there was a lone shoe left over.

The children at the table on the other side of us were a complete contrast. Of course, it may have helped that one of their parents was Native American (I would say "Indian," but that might be confusing), with whom we had a lovely chat while we waited for our food to come. The other parent at that table was a delightful blond woman who we assumed was not of the Native persuasion, but it's sometimes hard to know about these things from appearances. When we attend Indian township affairs, after all, many of those attending with us "don't look Indian" at all! No, they don't. On the other hand, among the Pueblos, where everyone seems to have a Spanish name, it's practically impossible for Anglos to distinguish los indios from Mexicans. OMG.

Indeed, the complexities of family, community, and cultural relationships among New Mexicans are something we may never be completely sure about. One of those Mysteries, one supposes.

Though the weather is clear and sunny and shockingly beautiful right now, they say there will be rain later today and snow later tonight, so we may not go to Las Posadas in Santa Fe (where there will be many people packing the Plaza anyway, and they like to think of it as a Local Event) so we might just stay home to sip some cider by the fire and take it easy for a bit.

Maybe though...

At Las Posadas de Santa Fe, 2011 (courtesy New Mexico Museum of History)
UPDATE (12/10/12): This was the view of the Plaza last night just before the scheduled time of Las Posadas:

There were a few people scattered about, and dogs; the snow was about ankle deep -- dogs love that, and kids too. Not sure if the Posadas proceeded, as the view was restricted to this one angle and there was a layer of snow along the bottom that blocked the view of the sidewalk and street. People came and went from the Plaza in tight knots, taking pictures and oouing and ahhing and whatnot, but there was no visible procession, so quien sabe?

At any rate, the snow at our place was a treat to watch and the mugs of mulled cider we sat with by the fire were delightful.

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