I love walking in an unfamiliar place early in the morning – while at the beach, or in a strange city, or maybe when I’m visiting a friend. (I would love to walk in the gardens Cinnamon visited in her post yesterday.) Doesn’t matter whether it’s Paris or the beach near where I grew up on the Eastern Seaboard, I’m putting my shoes on. I remember as a kid we were motivated to get out to the beach early, before it got too hot. All the boardwalk vendors were up pretty early too as I recall, ready to dish out soft-serve ice cream cones and saltwater taffy and French fries at ten a.m. if you wanted them (and I did, whether or not my parents were willing to pony up). It’s funny, when I think of “the Ocean” I don’t think of pure, unsullied air; I conjure up the smell of deep-fryers and tanning oil.
Santa Fe’s not an early town, not downtown anyway. On a Sunday morning, unless you’re looking for breakfast or coffee (or Catholic Mass) there’s not much going on. It’s a great time to wander, since I can’t even really turn it into an errand. I just meander along, stopping to identify plants, look in shop windows, admire the hummingbirds (which are everywhere, chittering and zipping around like fierce, crazed insects) and listen to the world around me.
I stopped to chat with this man for awhile — Johnny Alston, he’s originally from Pittsburgh, no burning desire to go back there. I’ve seen him (or more precisely, heard him) playing in various outdoor spots downtown over the past couple of months, but always during busier times when I didn’t want to bug him while he worked. He’s really good. His flutes are Native-American made, and they’re tuned to different keys (? Is this different than regular flutes? The things I don’t know about musical instruments) so he picks a different one out of the basket depending on what he’s going for. He said what attracted him to the instrument is the richness of the sound. He’s got background music playing on his speaker, like soft jazz or a piano, and he plays over it, and it’s unexpected and wonderful.
Then I walked over to see what was happening on the Plaza, which was pretty much nothing at that hour, just kids playing on the grass and people sitting on park benches in the shade, reading the paper. My two favorite food stands – Roque’s and El Molero – were setting up shop at opposite corners, and I highly recommend either one of them, I’ve been eating from El Molero for … decades now, whoa, and I think it’s the same guy. Smoky, grilled chicken or beef, onions and all the fixin’s, wrapped in a tortilla and a piece of tinfoil, eaten on the Plaza? Doesn’t get much better; people rave about his tamales, but I’m more a fajita gal myself.
Here’s my favorite rose bush on my way back. It doesn’t look like much, but man, those roses are potent – I can smell them all the way from the sidewalk. Speaking of which, I think that maybe, just maybe, I’m getting a little of my sense of smell back – whether it’s because I find this place so aromatic (which it is) or whether I’m just devoting more free time to trying to smell things (which I am) I couldn’t say, maybe both? I’ll get a big ol’ nose-hit of carnitas wafting on the plaza, or the smell of these roses, or the chamisa right after the rain, and I just stop whatever I’m doing and breathe it in.
Also: one stop closer (my physician agreed to write me a scrip) to getting a compounding pharmacy to whip me up a nasal spray that might (might!) help with my anosmia, although it can take weeks or months to see improvement. (I looked into it last year when doing my sad no-smell research, but the side effects of taking it orally gave me pause; as a nasal spray it sounds even better in terms of efficacy, and without the side effects.). It’s a little … out there, and I’ve never used a compounding pharmacy before, but there’s science and some studies behind it, and I figure the worst thing that’ll happen is nothing, and I’m willing to take my chances with that.
Do you take a morning stroll where you live, or where you’re visiting? What’s on your route? What are your favorite sights, sounds, smells?