Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Birthday To Remember

After three days of acute illness, my birthday dawned gratefully on Sunday with a relative cessation of nausea, the blessed absence of headache and fever, and only a lingering malaise that I would not allow to mar my day in the sun.

Mary was kind enough to make delicious French Toast for breakfast with chamomile tea, and following our morning repast, she proceeded to blindfold me and lead me outside for what she termed a "sensory awareness trust walk". Joined by two neighborhood boys along for the fun (and holding Tina for us), Mary led me on a gentle walk through the community, having me touch plants, run my hand along a rough yet somehow smooth adobe wall, and then stop under a tree in the central community plaza to listen to a swarm of bees busily pollinating the arboreal flowers overhead.

I was then led into the Common House, where my blindfold was removed and I was presented with a lovely handmade birthday card. Still not finished with the surprises, Mary then had me sit with my back to her and close my eyes while holding out my hands. A cloth or canvas object was placed in my outstretched hands, and the sound of zippers being opened and closed several times commenced.

When I could no longer bear the suspense (or guess what I was holding), I was allowed to open my eyes to see a miniature "travel guitar" in a cloth case, a gift that Mary was certain would bring me joy and delight. (You see, I very much regretted not bringing my classical guitar on our 10,000 mile journey, and Mary was determined to right that wrong by presenting me with my very own miniature guitar that would take up less space and be my musical companion for the remainder of this peripatetic sojourn.) Needless to say, I'm thrilled, and looking forward to having it restrung with nylon strings for my tender, unpracticed fingertips.

My birthday continued with another return to the Rio Grande 40 miles north of Santa Fe, where we met our son and daughter-in-law for a picnic at a local winery (accompanied by a bottle of local chilled dry rose), and a swim in the river. We also visited the beautiful and special land owned by some new acquaintances in the small town of Dixon.

Ah, a wonderful New Mexican birthday.

Happily, we were visited by dear friends from Taos on Monday, and we spent the evening having a community meal at The Commons and listening to yet another free evening of music on the Santa Fe Plaza. Unfortunately, the music was disappointing Beatles tunes Mariachi-style, so we wandered the streets surrounding the Plaza, visited art galleries, and ducked into our favorite cafe for free samples of gelato.

Walking back to the car, an all-female Mariachi band (Santa Fe's own Mariachi Buenaventura) was playing on the sidewalk across from the Plaza, and the acoustics of the arcade structure above them made their resonant voices carry with great gusto and force. It was a Mariachi tour de force, and the lively crowd spilled into the street, whistling, clapping and singing along as cars and diesel pickup trucks slowed to a crawl, their occupants yelling in Spanish to the musicians.

On the heels of three days of illness, these several days of celebration and birthday fun were sublime, and I am so very grateful to Mary for her kindness and generosity, to Rene and Bevin for meeting us on the river, and for Pam and Bruce, our dear friends of 17 years, for gracing our home with their presence for a brief but magical overnight stay.

Forty-six is looking good, and I am happy to be healthy again and ready for the remaining weeks of our first New Mexican summer.


  1. What a wonderful birthday, Keith! So happy that you now have a guitar to enjoy again.
    Mary, you are a gem...an absolute gem.
    Your postings are like dessert for me at the end of my day!

  2. Want you to see my new profile photo, so adding this little PS to get that on here.
    Hugs to you guys!

  3. Thanks, Ruth! Always great to hear from you!