There is a bit of magic in everything.
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.
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.
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.
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 http://kirbykendrick.com.
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!
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 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 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.
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.
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.