Santa Fe Solstice

Apache plume outside my casita.

I’m writing this on the summer solstice.  I hadn’t realized it, but I should have.  I’ve felt … something, some faint magic, shimmering in the air around me since last night.  So, today I went and smudged my new rental casita with sage I bought yesterday at the farmer’s market.  It was a very Santa Fe moment, let me tell you.

New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment, but not everyone is enchanted, and that’s okay.  When I lived here in the 1990s, I was surprised by the tourists who showed up in December in their shorts in 15-degree weather, looking for Adobe Disneyland, thinking …. this is maybe Phoenix AZ and there’s no winter?  There’s a ski resort up the road; we’re at 7000 feet elevation.  And I have heard more than one disgruntled, sunburnt tourist trudging along the Plaza in 90-degree midsummer, grumbling “but it’s all so… brown.”  Fair enough.  If you don’t love Santa Fe at first light and from a middle distance, my recommendation is to zoom way out — the view of the Jemez mountains above the treeline of pinon pines, slow growing and some hundreds of years old — or way in, noting the tiny, delicate flowers in bloom near your feet.

I got through the last six months (of COVID, of the planning and execution of two-long distance moves, my kids to Maine and me to Santa Fe) by focusing on the many tasks at hand. I’d planned for everything up to my move while not envisioning anything after, other than surviving it.  The reality of my carefully crafted move was pretty rough; I might as well have drunk-dialed some random dudes off Craigslist.  But, hey – I found a last-minute transport for my car, which got here a couple days ago.  I’m staying with a friend in her beautiful guesthouse in the country, and I assume my stuff will show up eventually, and then I’ll move into my tiny rental casita downtown, an old adobe that is pretty much everything I wanted in terms of location and charm. I’m also catching up on six months of lost sleep, and watching the birds at the bird feeder where I’m staying.

Today at the rental casita was a gift my daughter sent – a small box waiting for me, welcoming me to my new home.  Years ago I gave her a vintage cross-back apron hanging in my kitchen, because she loved it so much.  I never replaced it.  So, the gift box contained its replacement, another cross-back apron custom-made for me by an Etsy crafter, in precisely the deep blue shade of linen I would have chosen for myself.  Today, again, I count my blessings – I counted them as I walked around the little rental casita, smudging each corner, each door.  Some people view smudging as driving bad things out, but I have always viewed it as inviting good things in.  I introduced myself to the house, asked for patience, invited joy and laughter to greet me at the door and come on in.  I invited abundance in the kitchen, peace in the bedroom, kindness and friendship in the living room, tranquility in my tiny private garden.

I stopped at an old adobe convenience/liquor/package store on the way home, a trip down memory lane.  It’s hot today, and dry like every day — humidity in Washington DC was a sultry 78% last time I looked and in Santa Fe it’s a bone-dry 13%.  I’m drinking water like my life depends on it (and it does) while I re-acclimate.  But today I treated myself to a frosty Mexican Coke made with cane sugar, so cold from the chiller that I felt slushy ice hit my mouth on my first sip.  It was heaven in a bottle.

I’m waiting for sundown, when the temperature starts its 30-degree drop in this high desert climate, to go for a walk.  In the dark I’ve heard the coyotes pad quietly past the casita.  Maybe tonight they will show themselves, briefly and from a distance, as they go about their business and I continue on my own path.  I made it, friends.  I’m here.

  • eatigs says:

    So glad to think of you, with the hard tasks over, smudging, wearing your apron and being enchanted. My heart is full for you.

  • Patty says:

    So happy for you. I hope it is all peaceful high desert days from here on!

  • Carolyn says:

    So glad you made it in one piece! Once you are settled into the casita perhaps we can go walking together in the evening when the temps start to dip since you are in my nabe now.

    • March says:

      That would be WONDERFUL. LOL I got an email today from the movers: your stuff is in transit. Uh… okay?

  • Jennifer S says:

    How wonderful and exciting a time this sounds like for you! I’m envious of your ability to make a decisive plan for yourself and carry it out only because, while I’d love to have some such plan for myself after retirement, I’m afraid I’ll fall victim to ‘same old, same old’ syndrome and not enough of a ‘just do it’ mentality! Best wishes to you!

    • March says:

      Thank you! Weirdly, COVID really clarified things for me. Otherwise I probably would have stayed in the DC area. But since the kids moved out I knew I was moving anyway. I just made it a bigger move.

  • Koyel says:

    How lovely, March <3 wishing you the best in your new adventures.

    • March says:

      Thank you. As things start (finish?) reopening here, I’m looking forward to a new normal.

  • Shiva-woman says:

    How exciting! It sounds beautiful–but what a change: you in one direction and kids heading in an entirely different one. May this be the start of a new great adventure in your life.

    • March says:

      Yep, diagonally apart! I miss them so much, even though I know it’s a great move for all of us. I promised not to follow them to Maine — too cold for me!

  • Dina C. says:

    I’m SO happy for you, March! Got a little verklempt at the end there. Love the gift of the cross-back apron from your daughter — how perfectly lovely! Your talent for description has certainly followed you cross-country. I love hearing about Santa Fe and its atmospheric surroundings. I add my blessings to the sage ritual you did on the casita: may this new chapter in your life be full of marvelous good things!

    • March says:

      Hey, I’m getting a little verklempt pretty regularly these days, all the feelings I shut down “for later.” Like many places, Santa Fe is lowering COVID restrictions by the day, full reopening on July 1; the timing is great. And thanks for your kind words.

  • Kathleen says:

    Congratulations on arriving! I love everything about Santa Fe that you describe. All I see is beauty in Santa Fe high desert. I wish you peace and only good things in your new home.

    • March says:

      Thanks, I am thrilled to be back, even though I’m not quite “home” yet — being without my own nest and my own things is always a little discombobulating! Fingers crossed by the next time I get on here, I’ll be settling in.

  • Musette says:

    This post makes me SO happy – and no part of it more so than the gift; that gift makes me giggle with delight, knowing the Universe is always prepared to throw a curveball – and sometimes that curveball results in a home run!

    Santa Fe is gorgeous! DryAF (it took my cuticles a month to come back to normal) – but gorgeous. And I still see those orange hummingbirds in my mind. And the leetle sneklet that was in the rafters of the pergola, remember him? I loved him.


  • MizChristian says:

    I am crying happy tears for you, March.

    While I’m a dyed in the wool East coast person, there is something (as you said) magical about the Southwest desert. I’ve spent time in New Mexico and treasure the memories.

    Wishing you joy and delight as you begin this new chapter.

    • March says:

      Thank you. COVID made the last part of this journey harder in many ways, but also easier in that it really clarified for me: is this what I want? I’m not taking time and freedom for granted in the same way now, something I suspect is true for many people. Lots of change going on all around me.

  • Tiara says:

    Santa Fe is such a special place with its own beauty and energy. Love that you worked hard to get back there and made it happen.

    • March says:

      Thank you! LOL I’m a little embarrassed reading my “related posts” that appeared after this went live — I keep mentioning some of the same details in almost the same way. I promise it wasn’t intentional!

  • Cinnamon says:

    It certainly sounds like the land of enchantment — and it makes sense to me to ‘mark’ the house for your move there. I have very old crystals (from broken up chandeliers), ribbons that go on doors, and small sort of talisman that have moved from space to space with me. In any case please tell us more as time goes on and you settle in.

    • March says:

      I had my sister go back to my DC area house before the cleaners came for exactly one item (well, collection of items): the same talismans, which I realized w horror I’d left out when packing. It would have been okay, I’d have crafted something new and different (and may still have to if they don’t arrive!) But they’re comforting and familiar, those bead strings and crystals and bits and bobs.

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you for “taking us with you” in your passage to growth, beauty and awakenings.

  • Tara C says:

    Yay, you made it!! Loved your smudging story, if you don’t mind I’m going to borrow it when I move into my new home July 17th, I love the idea of welcoming the positive.
    Santa Fe is beautiful but boy howdy that aridity would kill me, I am a tropical flower. The rain forest of the Pacific northwest suits me better, but maybe you have less bugs with that dry air? Anyway, welcome home!!

    • Musette says:

      Tara, on my (so far) one and only trip to Santa Fe I remember being stunned at how DRYYYYY! it was. My cuticles were freaked totally the hell out! I should’ve ingested way more water than I did !


      • March says:

        You were PARCHED baby! Hey, I feel your cuticle pain too — I’ve had to reaaallly up my moisturizing game, and I was dry-skinned to start with!

    • March says:

      Smudging is fun, if you can get over the “this is dumb” awkwardness (if you’ve never done it before). I like to put on a little music, set the mood. And I completely understand, the aridity annoys ME sometimes! Definitely less flying insects (last time I lived here was a house with no screens, it was fine) BUT higher allergens weirdly, since things like juniper have to wind pollinate — which basically looks like they’re smoking for two months.

  • Portia says:

    WOO HOO! March! You made it in one piece, body and mind. Excellent news.
    The place sounds perfect.
    I do a similar thing to smudging each week when I’m finished the apartment clean. Light some incense, thank the gods, wander around all corners of our home saying “Capture all negative energy, leave only positive energy.” Yeah, it’s woo woo but the place always feels cleansed and ready for another week of whatever we throw at it.
    Then I have a cuppa and enjoy the cleanliness.
    Have you worn any perfumes there yet? Are your tastes different in the new environs?
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      I LOVE that you finish up with “a cuppa” — seems like the natural conclusion! I …. typing cautiously here … feel like my sense of smell may be coming back just a hair? I can write another long boring post but in a nutshell, I figured when I got here and things reopen (which they are doing right NOW) I’m going all in on acupuncture, bodywork, some dietary changes, etc. and see if I can’t coax my sense of smell to come back a bit more.

      • Portia says:

        Yeah, go at it 100%. That would definitely be the icing on the cake for you. SMELL AGAIN!
        Fingers crossed for you, beautiful.

  • SpringPansy says:

    This post made me very happy. Happy you are there and starting the settling in process. Happy that you talked about how to see beauty almost anywhere – zoom way out or way in, walk a lot, get to know it. Happy that you are starting a new chapter. I’ll be following your adventures with interest!

    • March says:

      Thank you! I’m not big on “exercise” but I love love love to walk — it’s always a factor in where I live, and where I choose to vacation. I love walking in cities, seeing what’s around an unfamiliar corner. I think part of it is I want to stop and dawdle and discover, like a child. Walking is often … how I get there mentally? It’s oddly, wonderfully freeing for me.

  • Jo Ann says:


    • March says:

      THANK you! It was a bit of uh a slog, particularly there at the end, but I lowered my standards and expectations accordingly and got through it!

  • Maya says:

    Wonderful!!! I am so happy for you and wish you joy and more joy!

    • March says:

      And joy and more joy back to you as well, Maya. So many people are planning new adventures now, big and small.