August 3, 2012 at 2:45 PM

In the Beginning

"On my first trip to Santa Fe from my home in Atlanta, I rediscovered stars."

By Susan Tungate

Information and Inspiration Under Santa Fe Skies

Susan Tungate is a writer, intrepid traveler, blogger and writing teacher.

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On my first trip to Santa Fe from my home in Atlanta, I rediscovered stars. Walking around the Plaza that first night, I looked up and was flabbergasted to see all the constellations of my childhood: the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, a million stars sparkling against a navy sky. They had been hiding behind city lights and pollution all along.

My second trip two years later was prompted by a chance encounter in a local book store with Stanley Crawford’s book A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm. Since at least half the people in Santa Fe believe little is by chance, I will amend that to say as if led by a divining rod, I was pulled to Stan’s book during one particularly frenetic Saturday. In the late 1960s, Stan and wife Rose Mary traded city life for two acres off a dirt road in Dixon, 50 miles north of Santa Fe. The book is about growing garlic and building a meaningful life founded on community.

You won’t see trendy SUVs or a Whole Foods parking lot packed with women in yoga pants in Dixon, but there is an abandoned gas station on the right which manages to look charming rather than frightening, a gallery, and a community library next to the grocery co-op. If you meander long enough, you will find Stanley and Rose Mary’s El Bosque Garlic Farm as I did that second trip.

Like a stalker I sat in my rental car and looked at every visible inch of their  property: their home built with handmade adobe bricks, flourishing vegetables, and rows of garlic. The place existed so I had hope the way of life might as well.

The next day under an impossibly blue sky, I headed for the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. Half way down the aisle I spotted the face on the book jacket standing behind bins of garlic. We chatted long enough for me to purchase three heads of garlic for less than a dollar. I took the garlic home, roasted two of the heads and set the other one on a small plate for inspiration. It’s a wonder I didn’t  light a candle next to it.

Six years later I moved to Santa Fe for a one year telecommute to my job with CNN in Atlanta. Almost 15 years later now I never left, although I did leave CNN. Most Saturdays I walk the four blocks to the Farmers’ Market now housed in its own building in the Railyard District. I walk down the first crowded aisle with farmers selling greens, flowers, cheese and jars of jelly, stopping to say hello and buying what captures my imagination. Stan and Rose Mary’s stand is half way down on the left. Each time Stan hands me my three heads of garlic and I hand Stan my change, the moment is never lost on me. Stan, he has no idea.

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