This quote is on a plaque outside Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe research center which I didn’t see because I didn’t take time to look. I did snap this gorgeous picture of the garden outside and then skipped on by, waiting on the corner wondering what was taking my sisters so long. They took time to look, to absorb the beauty, to be in the moment. Smart sisters I have. A couple of weeks ago we DID take time to celebrate a milestone birthday for Donna and the joy of being sisters by taking a sister trip to Santa Fe. What a time we had!
A first for Marsha and me – attending our first opera at the oh-so-divine Crosby Theater. As gentle mountain breezes blew in the open-sided arena, we were transported to the world of La Traviata. Thank you, Donna, for arranging for the tickets and our third row seats. What a special evening.
As long as I can remember, I’ve known of Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist who painted huge flowers. What I didn’t know was that the flowers were her earlier work and that her passion was found later in life in the red hills of Santa Fe. And as much as I enjoyed the museum’s collection of her paintings, I was drawn just as strongly to the quotes scattered amongst her art. She not only captured visual images with her paint box and canvas, but note-worthy word pictures with her prose. Words like this:
In front of my house there are low scrub brushes and cottonwood trees and, further out, a line of hills. And then I have this mountain. A flat-top mountain that slopes off on each side. A Blue mountain. And to the left you can see snow covered mountains, far, far away. . . . . Georgia O’Keeffe, 1945
I walked alone out through the red hills . . . . I got a keen sort of exhilaration from being alone – it was cold enough to wear a woolen jacket – I walked some distance – then climbed quite high – a place swept clean where the wind blows between two hills too high to climb unless you want to work very hard – but from where I stood it seemed I could see all over this world. . . . . Georgia O’Keeffe, 1940
The writer in me loved the artist more for being just as astute with a pen as she was a paint brush. And I was sort of captivated by the fact that she aged along with her art, just as beautiful and at home as a young woman as she was with leathery skin and lines in her face that almost mimicked the raw beauty of her chosen mountains.
The trip didn’t come without a few unexpected moments – like not knowing that the Indian Arts Festival – Santa Fe’s largest annual event – coincided with our trip. It made for massive crowds, but a feast for the senses – native American hoop dances, haunting lute melodies, booth after booth of pottery, magnificent turquoise jewelry, artwork, and aromas of Indian tacos and caramel corn. We took an afternoon break at the Burro Alley Cafe and enjoyed accordion music and a fashion show along with fresh guacamole and warm chips. Somehow it all fit together seamlessly.
On Sunday, we drove out of town a ways to the Estrella Del Norte Vineyard for a wine tasting and a stroll on the gorgeous grounds, getting a passerby to take our requisite “sister” picture.
And a silly one in this walkway.
We had plans to eat at a recommended restaurant nearby, but the owner of the vineyard recommended that we go up the road a bit to another place, and while we were there to be sure and visit the Sanctuaria de Chimayo. He didn’t specify exactly how far up the road we were to go, and just as we were about to chalk it up to a wild goose chase, another of the unexpected delights materialized.
The Sanctuaria is famous for the healing earth from the area behind the chapel and the entire complex is the site of the largest healing pilgrimage in the US, attracting thousands of people each year, many of whom testify to the miracles they’ve received there. The area behind the church had a prayer arena and beside a mountain stream, the stations of the cross stood with flowers and notes attached from those who’d come. We each came home with a sample of the fine silt from the church yard, knowing that any one of us might be in need of a miracle and God’s healing touch one day.
As the sun settled behind the blue-tinged mountains, we dined al fresco at Rancho de Chimayo – do you see a pattern here? When I said a feast for the senses, I meant it literally. Santa Fe may be known for its strong Indian and Catholic heritage and its magnificent art, but the food ranks right up there, too!
Along with the shopping. Trader Joe’s. Yes, two visits – one to get breakfast treats for our stay at the resort and another on the way out of town for take home treats. And a trip to Santa Fe is not complete without perusing Jackalope’s Artisan Market.
Take time to look.
Yes, we did.
But we also took time to eat. To celebrate. To laugh and cry and fuss at each other as sisters. To talk until our throats were dry. We took time to rehash the past, ponder our present, and make new memories. Nestled in the hills that surrounded us, we spent time cherishing who we are.