Above: The San Miguel de Socorro Mission was rebuilt in 1821, though some of the original 1620s structure remains behind the altar. 

HOME. OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, many of us have had some extra time to think about what that means. Beyond the place where we live, it has served as our makeshift office, school, gym, place of worship, bar, restaurant, and theater. 

We’ve spent more time tending our gardens, tinkering in our garages, checking off overdue repairs, and venturing out only when necessary.  

Needless to say, that makes for a very strange time to become editor in chief of a state travel magazine. The stay-at-home order and other restrictions have meant that getting familiar with New Mexico has been more challenging than expected. 

I’ve ordered jars of Hatch chile salsa, taken virtual hikes, and streamed hours of movies and TV shows filmed in the Land of Enchantment. As first impressions go, I’m completely enamored. Still, this month’s celebration of adobe (“Earthly Delights”) and what it means has been something else. 

I’ve always been a bit of an amateur architecture nerd, but it’s more than that. In Cleveland, Ohio, where I’ve lived most of my life, the Dunham Tavern Museum is the oldest building I can point to. A former residence, stagecoach stop, and WPA artists’ studio, the original structure dates to 1824. 

The San Miguel de Socorro Mission, by comparison, was re-dedicated in 1821. Imagining how many hands have taken part in the more than 200 annual communal plasterings at San Francisco de Asís Mission requires that we reevaluate our relationships with the past, with one another, and with the earth. 

As someone who struggles to change a light bulb, I’m in awe of sculptor and preservationist Roxanne Swentzell (“My Mother, the Builder”) and her ability to construct  a house with just the help of her two small children. I keep returning to her words: “In these times of great changes, we need to look again at our own capabilities,” she says. “Building with simple materials like adobe helps us to reconnect. It also lends itself to a creative way of expressing our own uniqueness.”

It’s good advice during the uncertain times ahead for all of us, but especially for me as I discover a place and people and culture that’s starting to feel like home.