There is a bit of magic in everything.

– Unknown

I flew to Northern New Mexico a few days ago to check on my casita, see a few clients and buy Christmas presents for some good friends. But what I really went for was the magic.

One night while I was there I went to La Posada –“place of rest”–  for dinner just steps away from Santa Fe’s Historic Plaza. The instant I opened the car door I smelled pinon burning. I hurried through the crisp mountain air to the lobby where a blazing fire greeted me. Directly across the room was a wide ornate opening above a short flight of stone steps that led to a dimly lit hallway studded with fabulous paintings.

The Mansion

I walked up the steps and entered the Staub House, a three-story brick mansion built in 1882 around which the resort was built.  I passed the bar on my left and drawing rooms on my right that were part of the original grand home. All boasted wide passageways through which I saw glowing fireplaces and more outrageous paintings that took my breath away.

As tempting as they were, I resisted the alluring openings as well as the steep mysterious stairway that led upstairs. Instead I spied something intriguing in the distance that drew me down the long corridor.

The Painting

When I arrived at the end of the hallway, I took a deep breath. There before me was a 3’ high x 4’ long canvas, bordered by a 5” wide hand-tooled silver metal frame seen only in New Mexico. The top half of the art work depicted a huge jet-black sky sparkling with what seemed to be hundreds of stars. Radiant pink, purple and persimmon colored trees had roots embedded in vibrant green earth. They surrounded a double spire orange cathedral adorned with two tiny crosses. An arched opening led to the church adjacent to the burnt orange embankment which billowed beside the structure.

Closeup of Painting

I leaned in to read the description on a small white card to the left of the frame. Taos Spring by Kirby Kendrick, Acrylic and Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48”. In the manner of the late Tom Noble, Kendrick’s mentor. On some level, I knew that it was one of my dear friend’s stunning compositions of New Mexico. I was thrilled.

Kirby’s work is sold at La Posada, Liberty Station Galleries, National Watercolor Society Art Gallery and A’telier, all in San Diego. I own one of her pieces but not as magnificent or as magical as this one.

You can see more of Kirby’s work at

The Plaza

Strands of colored lights laced through bare branches twinkle like stars above the Historic Plaza.

I left La Posada after dinner at 11 o’clock and drove a short block to the huge downtown plaza. It was empty except for hundreds of lights strung throughout massive trees whose bare branches disappeared against the ink-colored sky. What remained looked like shimmering glitter above the town square, much like Kirby’s stars except in blue, white, green, pink and purple. Like the painting, the tree trunks and foliage below the ‘stars’ radiated with color. I traversed the park in all directions enraptured by the beauty. It was magical!

Tree trunks and low foliage sparkle with radiant color.

The Cathedral

Saint Francis Cathedral
Saint Francis Cathedral built in 1886 still glows near the plaza.

Then I found myself at the southeast corner of the park where I glimpsed something out of the corner of my eye. It was the majestic Saint Francis Cathedral at the end of the street. The church, which was completed in 1886, was named after the patron saint of Santa Fe, St. Francis of Assisi.

Similar to the cathedral in Kirby’s painting, it had two spires flanking a center pitched roof with a small cross on top and arched opening below. I walked the short block to the church and stood in front of it – enchanted and in awe.

The Hotel

The cathedral was locked, the temperature dropping, and I was cold. So I drove to the Hotel St. Francis a few blocks away. No one was in the cavernous lobby except the reception attendant. I love this place, I thought as I warmed myself by the enormous fireplace. It reminds me of a sacred old Mexican monastery where people come to pray. The hotel has a huge stone lobby, graceful arches and giant baptismal with candles glowing around it. It’s simple and rustic, yet elegant – where peace and tranquility are the key design elements.

The lobby of Hotel St Frances feels like an old Mexican Monastery.
The lobby of Hotel St Frances feels like an old Mexican Monastery.

The Hotel St. Francis was last renovated in 2009.  Like the cathedral, the new owners found their current inspiration from Saint Frances of Assisi as well. The hotel has a mystical quality which draws me every time I visit The City Different.


As I headed home to my casita that night, I became entranced by the decorations on an old adobe I passed on Paseo de Peralta.  Although I was tired, I turned my car around to see it up close.

The ancient structure had an arched entrance bejeweled with pinkish orange lights below a wildly curvaceous adobe wall lined with farolitos. Inside the courtyard, trees embellished with the same brilliant lights provided a stunning backdrop. The combination of shapes, colors, and textures made it feel like it belonged in a whimsical fairy tale on acid — but in a good way.

Farolitos line wildly curvaceous walls of this ancient adobe.

Farolito translates as “little lantern” in Spanish. The paper bag lanterns traditionally have sand in the bottom where a candle is placed and lit which makes the bag glow, creating a special magic all its own.

Holidy Magic

I don’t know about you but when I arrived in Santa Fe, I needed a little magic to sooth my soul in this crazy world we live in. Like no other time of year, Christmas lends itself to the possibility of something magical happening. I don’t have a TV in Santa Fe so I decided that instead of watching the news I would watch for magic throughout the day and night until I closed my eyes. And that’s exactly what I did. After all, I was in The Land of Enchantment as New Mexico is called.

While eating breakfast the next morning at the Tea House on Canyon Road, I looked across the room to see the beautiful New Mexico light streaming in.  Above the window, I saw a big handwritten sign that simply said “BELIEVE”. It surprised me – but in a good way.

It was that same night that I went to La Posada and found magic in a painting, a plaza, a cathedral, a hotel and a crazy adobe. I also found magic in the people I met that day and night. But that’s another story.

I hope you find your own magic this holiday season. You just need to open your eyes to it. There truly is a bigger picture to life. Just believe! And let the mystery lie.

Magical Blessings,

Showing 13 comments
  • Lynn

    Linda, it sounds as if your magical journey through Santa Fe was a pilgrimage of sorts, filled with unexpected light and color at each intersection. So many thanks for sharing your journey and reminding me of the importance of paying attention. May you have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year!

  • Susan Rietschel Little

    Santa Fe means Holy Faith. So you came to the right place to find Magic. It is so good to have these times to observe, feel and let go of “the world”. So beautiful there. Thanks for sharing the photos and your thoughts on the season. Keep posting because we are reading, watching and experiencing right along with you! Merry Christmas from snow covered NE Ohio!

  • Eileen Tanfani

    I was absolutely enchanted reading this… and I live here! 🙂 I’m glad you’re enjoying your stay!

  • Bea Green

    I love Santa Fe. La Posada is where we stay when we go there. My great, great , great, great, great grandfather Don Jacobo Ugarte y Loyola was the Comande General of the Santa Fe colony. So when we’ve gone there to visit, it’s like getting in touch with our roots and being close to long lost family. Beautiful place to find peace.

  • Martha Ann

    This is wonderful , especially Kirby’s awesome Painting ????????

  • Norma Pendleton

    Loved this beautiful magical place.

    Thank you for sharing. Need to plan a visit here some day.
    Happy New Year

  • marlena weinstein

    Who knew where to go on Christmas to feel like a Hallmark Card?

  • Patricia

    The convergence of (wo) man, nature, and Linda to remind us of the perfect beauty of the season. Be well all and happy new year!

  • angela carrera

    BEAUTIFUL!!! I am totally enjoying getting your emails, reading your thoughts, seeing your photos, etc. Happy 2018!!!!

    Angela from NJ

  • bob lewis

    …tfs…some down right purdy stuff there, ms. linda…oops…i can hear miranda priestly now saying, “stuff, you call this stuff?”…lol…enjoyed the show…hny to your & yours…


    Oh Gosh, that Painting!!!!! I hope that you bought it. Stunning post. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

  • Nyla Puccinelli

    What a special Holiday season you experienced this year. Very magical, for sure!
    Was in Santa Fe during the Christmas Season about 10 years ago. It was a 50 year
    anniversary party of good friends. As you said so beautifully; what a magical time to be in Santa Fe!
    Happy New Year, Linda. May we continue to experience the magic that surrounds
    our lives!
    Warmly, Nyla xo

  • Kirby Kendrick

    How marvelous that Linda can work this same magic in her designs!!

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Linda Applewhite Design