First Thought, Best Thought: Santa Fe

When I think of what I would have missed if I’d ignored The Dish n’ Spoon Café today. I was walking into Santa Fe along old Route 66 and I’d gotten myself all turned around. I wandered in big, unintentional loops, appreciating how this town was built around a network of old trails, but desperately wishing for a grid to help me find my way.

I’d planned to eat somewhere downtown, but I was famished and confused and still had far to go when I found myself standing in front of a funky old storefront with a bunch of interesting junk outside. I wanted to go in. “No,” said the voice in my head, “That’s not the plan.” I walked away, then stopped and turned around. I wanted to go in, dammit.

So I did.

Sometimes, stopping at the first place you see is a fine strategy. Check out what I got: homemade rhubarb pie with farmer’s market honey vanilla and date ice cream. I’m not kidding you. And so what if the few things pictured here cost $15. They blew my socks off and left me sitting in a happy haze of powdered sugar.

Also, I got to listen to the people sitting next to me (not pictured here, though they were eating lunch at the table below) talk about using flower essences to ease the separation anxiety that had been troubling their dogs. Apparently, this works well only if offered to your furry companions with the proper focus and intention. It struck me as a very Santa Fean conversation, but because I’ve spent my whole life at home in Berkeley and Marin County, California, I wasn’t fazed. Just amused. (Plus, isn’t it funny that Santa “Feans” doesn’t rhyme with “beans”?)

I did eventually make it downtown. I checked out the New Mexico History Museum and walked around the plaza, then scuttled away from the expensive shops and galleries in search of more thrifty finds. I wandered west, toward the train station, because I’m always happy around a train. And then I scored: vintage clothing, jewelry, and . . . antique Ball canning jars, the pretty blue ones . . . from DoubleTake, not far from the depot.

I’m still researching the safety of these jars, because I’ve heard rumors that both the lids and glass contain trace amounts of lead. But here they are, all sweet and spicy with lilacs and sage.

Traveling on instinct. It’s a good way to go.

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