Land of Enchantment

casita1Hey, everybody – greetings from Santa Fe, New Mexico! Patty, Anita and I are having a lovely time in the City Different, smack dab in the Land of Enchantment. I lived here back in the day, and visiting fills me with joy.

New Mexico smells like … well, like New Mexico, and nowhere else. It’s a dry, pungent smell, with notes of creosote, resinous evergreen, sage and warm earth. New Mexico really is like visiting a different country, and I encourage anyone who has an opportunity to make the trip. It’s high desert in the northern part of the state, so it’s not Phoenix – there are four seasons, and Santa Fe is literally at the bottom of a ski basin (no, I am not joking.) Up the road, Taos has world-class skiing.  We’re staying in a casita right off Canyon Road that could not be more charming.  That’s the living room (above) and the courtyard (below).

casita3We are hitting it hard (the green chile!  the spa!), but let’s talk about my scented delights: we were at a tourist trap right off the Plaza when one of my wishes came true – they had several bottles of Clear Light cedar spray sitting on a shelf. Clear Light went out of business this spring after 45 years, and by the time I found out, all their stock was gone – even from Amazon and eBay. Ten Thousand Waves and other places used to stock it, and to me it was and is the scent of New Mexico, to be sprayed liberally on your linens, couch, curtains, clothes, hair, etc. (they also have fabulous cedar needle sachets).  I learned a few days ago that they’ve been bought and are planning to reopen soon (yay!), but in the meantime the three of us whooped and grabbed every bottle in that shop, to the confusion of the young man at the counter.

cowboyOn Saturday we went to the excellent farmers’ market, where (in addition to produce and prepared foods) they sell crafty yarn and body products. Allow me to introduce you to Second Bloom Farm if you can’t make the trip in person and want a sniff of New Mexico. Their moisturizing lotion bar in Pinon is pretty much New Mexico in a tin. Also let me recommend Cowboy, an outdoorsy scent that smells (to me) like leather, incense and cedarwood.

Anita’s said to me that she now understands what I’m babbling about when I wax poetic about the way this area smells.  Finally, a note on green chile — for those of you near Trader Joe’s, their Hatch Valley Salsa is fantastic on your eggs, burger, chicken fajitas, etc., use it that way, like a sauce.  If you want to try making your own green chile sauce, Bueno sells frozen tubs of Hatch green and other life-changing necessities like tamales and posole at random grocery stores around the country.  You’re welcome.




  • HeidiC says:

    I lived in Utah for a number of years, and I’ve only been to northern Arizona, never NM. But I know what you mean about the desert — it always feels like home to me. I’ll have to check out those lines! And yes, the TJ’s Hatch Valley salsa is heaven in a jar!

    • March says:

      The first time I ate that TJs salsa (having been disappointed by their canned Hatch chiles) I think I moaned. It’s basically prepared green chile sauce. However, it is NOT great salsa, too soft, and I worry they’ll stop making it for that reason.

  • SamanthaL says:

    It sounds like you’re having such fun, I envy you all! I absolutely adore the Trader Joe’s Hatch Valley salsa…I always buy at least two when I’m there!! Isn’t Hatch chile season soon? I usually get them at Whole Foods and freeze them, but I missed getting any last year.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I’ve never been to New Mexico. The closest I have been is Dallas. I’ve never seen so many Mexican restaraunts and steakhouses in my life along with malls. The Dallas are smelled no different than Cleveland but it was mid-October, so nothing was blooming.

    • Musette says:

      I walked into the courtyard and said ‘omg. NOW I get it.’ There really is a distinct Santa Fe smell but it is in the flora – the ‘outside’ (buildings, etc) are just …’outside’ – but get up close to pinon and those other evergreen-y things and omg.

      However. It is hot as hades there – and it’s DRY. Which is hard on my po’ self. I’m used to blistering heat with 100% humidity. My cuticles dried out! wth?

  • Koyel says:

    I lived in Los Alamos, NM for seven months back in 2009, and visited Santa Fe as often as I could. Your post really brought back a lot of glorious scent memories. Thanks so much for these descriptions; it’s making me long for a return visit!

    • March says:

      You’re welcome! I came back pretty regularly for the first decade, then haven’t been here in five years…. it was KILLING me. I was actually a little nervous, thinking: it’s not going to be as sweet as I remember. Honestly, I would move back here in a heartbeat if/when the time is right.

  • Oh wow, that pinon lotion sounds like a dream. Here in Tucson it’s easy to find a natural skincare line called Medicine of the People, and they have a pinon salve and a greasewood ointment and they are wonderful.

    • March says:

      I really need to get to Tucson… the closest I’ve been is Phoenix, which I consider uninhabitable 🙂 Tucson is a lot like Santa Fe, I think, and sounds lovely.

      • It definitely has its quirks, but the food is unbeatable (we’re a UNESCO gastronomy site!) and there’s a lot of neat stuff in the area. Protip: avoid Tucson in June unless you REALLY like it over 110. Santa Fe is lovely and I prefer it to Tucson, but in many ways, it’s apples and oranges!

  • Have a wonderful time! All my cousins live in Chimayo, and I have great memories of my times I’ve spent in NM! Hope you get a chance to enjoy some down-time at Ten Thousand Waves!

    • March says:

      Yesterday was spa day at Ten Thousand Waves, it was fantastic — massage, salt glow, etc. I love going up there. They even have a Japanese restaurant now. This morning I’m heading out to visit an old friend, and Patty and Anita are driving up to Santuario de Chimayo!

  • LaDona says:

    You are SOOOOOOO in my wheelhouse! I was born in New Mexico and raised in Texas, so I’m having flashbacks of eating Hatch chiles fresh out of the field (make a pork or chicken green chile stew out of that stuff. Heavenly, and I’ll happily give you a lovely recipe from my grandma!) I seem to recall a little town near Santa Fe called Galisteo? I hope I have that right….so much to do where you are, and I’m so happily envious of your trip! I can just smell the Piñon Pines and creosote….plus that baked earth thing when it’s hot. Ahhhhh. You guys have fun!

    • LaDona says:

      Ooh, Hatch chile rellenos! Heavenly. Just heavenly.

    • March says:

      It rained last night (finally, it’s been unusually hot) and it smells HEAVENLY this morning. Yes, Galisteo is nearby — and I would love your green chile stew recipe, please email it to perfumediva at gmail account, thanks!