No Place Does Spring Like Santa Fe

Santa Fe is so blessed with seasonally special sights and sounds that I never feel shortchanged at any time of year. But I admit that being on the cusp of spring has me in a fever of eager anticipation. As days grow longer, blossoming trees will begin to decorate the city and festive events will bloom all over town. Now is the moment to give in to the beauty and bounty of a colorful southwest spring, so I offer my primavera primer.

The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.
The first flowers of spring — forsythia — bloom in abundance in Bishop Lamy’s quiet garden adjacent to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis.

One Old Culture Honors Another

No country pays a more handsome homage to spring than Japan. Fragrant flowers, gusty winds sending kites aloft, a rich and ancient culture … Santa Fe has them too, though our early blossoms come from gorgeous old apricot trees. Delicious jam ensues later, so look for it at our Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. And Santa Fe also has a Japanese tradition, when we celebrate “equinoxically” on March 22 at the Japanese Cultural Festival.

The delicacy and depth of Japanese artistry is rooted in deliberate design and meaning, and I salute the 10th annual return of this spring event, known as a Matsuri. This year’s theme, good luck, is symbolized by “sho,” “chiku,” and bai,” which translate as pine (symbol of tenacity, here it’s our piñon tree), bamboo (beloved for flexibility, a vital attribute for the original New Mexico settlers) and plum (its early flowers evoking the optimism of spring). I plan to capture in full the flavor of this eloquent triad.

This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!
This Japanese kite can turn its frown upside down when it’s finally aloft!

After repeatedly visiting the killer kite exhibit (which I’m happy to report has been extended through July 27) at the Museum of International Folk Art, a kite-making demo strikes my fancy as fantastic fun. I also intend to learn to turn my homey tea party into an elegant tea ceremony. And getting into the beating heart of the whole shebang will be a rhythmic riot aided by the Smokin’ Bachi Taiko drums.

Sounds for Serenading Spring

If you’re like me, your life has its own soundtrack, so you’ll also be stoked that the City Different is inviting everyone to Tune into Santa Fe this year. As a die-hard fan of summer’s rich musical offerings, I’m grateful I don’t have to wait until then to get my music fix. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus season covers March with gold-medal violin work, and they’re serving up a big dose of symphonic music in April and May. My calendar is marked in pastels for Easter, obligating my attendance at Santa Fe Pro Musica’s Baroque Holy Week concerts, where the timeless setting of the Loretto Chapel and evocative musical excellence sweeps me back seamlessly back through the ages.

There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.
There couldn’t be a better place to tune into Santa Fe’s musical scene than the Loretto Chapel.

Spring brings Aspen Santa Fe Ballet back to the Lensic, and much as I delight in classic ballet repertoire, I cherish the chances that ASFB takes with more avant-garde programs. With a world premiere in the wings and a pair of striking works by contemporary choreographers, I’m relieved to know that if I miss the March performances at the Lensic, a one-night April encore guarantees my dance date.

No Passport Needed to Paint a Pretty Picture of Spring

While New Mexico Magazine features funny monthly tales in which New Mexico is confused with Old Mexico, the only passport required to visit Santa Fe is a Passport to the Arts. Thoughtfully timed with Mother’s Day weekend (by the way, Mom, it’s been way too long since you visited!), there’s much to love — and share — when we wander in and out of the Canyon Road galleries and watch artists ply talents in the open air. Beginning Friday night with openings and receptions, the weekend is rife with demonstrations, food, and music clustered behind adobe walls and in sculpture gardens of historic buildings.

Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)
Get a Passport to the Arts on Canyon Road – it’s the only way to travel! (Photo credit: Canyon Road Merchants)

I’m awed by the Artist QuickDraw on Saturday morning, a tour-de-force event when participants combine any and all media with individual talent and techniques to create original works of art under the constraints of time and an avid public audience. When time’s up, palette knives and brushes, carving tools and crayons are retired, as the artists prepare their finished pieces and hustle them over to the Live Art Auction. As for me, I relax while they work, but I’m prepared to bid right quick on a favorite piece!

May I Invite You to May … and June Too?

By Memorial Day, Santa Fe will be gussied up in spring finery, trees leafed out and stalks of blue flax bobbing. And El Rancho de las Golondrinas will be spinning the old mill’s water wheel as the New Mexico Fiber Arts Festival returns. I feel sheepish to confess I play favorites, but El Rancho really is one of my special places, especially when it’s time to shear sheep, dye their wool, and spin it into fine colorful yarns. My sister holds the family-knitting crown, and I’m the crochet queen, so I’ll wind up with some naturally hand-dyed yarn for both of us.

Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)
Maria had a little lamb – or two, or four. (Photo credit: El Rancho de las Golondrinas)

Memorial Day also showcases fine fiber handicrafts at the Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival. With 200-plus artists, there’s always an ample display of museum-quality wares to admire, and it’s a perfect appetizer for everything discovered later in summer at SWAIA Indian Market. Since I’ll be fiber-minded, maybe I’ll finally find that long-sought-after Navajo rug for my bedroom. And if not, I’ll still be coming home with a treasure or two.

Spring doesn’t truly end until mid-June, so kids and all, I’ll scoot back out to El Rancho for the Spring Festival and Children’s Fair as soon as school ends. Watching “settlers” baking outdoors in an horno (the traditional NM beehive-shaped oven) and herding livestock makes this re-enactment of New Mexico village life a history lesson disguised as a fun day in the sun for little ones. And with cute baby animals bleating and clucking, there’s an “awwwww” factor that’s hard to beat.

Be Impetuous and Spring into Action

Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors.
Adobe walls offer the perfect backdrop for Santa Fe’s spring colors. Photo Credit: Eric Swanson Photography

On the scale of awe factors, spring in Santa Fe is a hard-to-beat-the-pleasure time. Balmy weather, flowers blooming, people smiling, and blue skies make each day a precious chance to collect kindred souls and share with them the places I return to again and again. I’ve planted some seeds for spring adventures here in Santa Fe, so don’t wait for summer — have a spring fling of your own!

 

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