, Salem, MA


June 23, 2014

Thomasson: Away from Washington, a breath of refreshing air

SANTA FE, N.M. — The cloudless sky is as blue here as you will ever see, and the thin air as fresh and sweet this June morning as you can ever hope to breathe.

On the tree-shaded plaza that has survived hundreds of years without losing its historic, pastoral character, residents of this ancient place (well, in terms of North American history) mix with tourists in an easy, friendly tribute to commerce and art, the American Indian women along the side bordered by the Governor’s Palace as they have seemingly forever, peddling the products of their work spread out on blankets. Amazingly, there is no incongruity between them and the expensive shops of art and fashion that line the other three sides of the square.

Under a leafy canopy, a man turning balloons into animal wonders with a twist here and there sees a moppet in the arms of a father and runs over to present her with a miniature pink poodle he has just created. There are no charges here. On one corner across from what once was a Woolworths and is now just called a five and dime, a vendor of Southwest cuisine prepares his specialties as the noon hour approaches.

A young man with a Texas A&M sweatshirt and an impressive college ring asks one lounging comfortably on a bench for permission to take his picture and receives a nod and a smile from beneath the straw hat pulled down low over his eyes.

“You look so relaxed,” the young Texan explains, as he thanks the subject and hurries off.

Unfortunately, altitude and age have kept me from spending as much time in this “land of enchantment” as I would like. Over the years, I have come here often to escape the increasingly noxious gases that sweep down across the federal landscape from Capitol Hill where men from other places around the nation “labor” without meaningful result for the rest of us and mostly in their own self interests. Once here, preservation of position is the object of their efforts not the solving of problems.

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