I HAVE NEVER MET A TOOL THAT I DIDN’T HATE—hammer, wrench, saw, shovel, you name it. I am bad with all of them, on a frustratingly epic level. My father tried to teach me when I was a kid, as I helped him tinker with his 1940 Hudson, but the mechanical genes that my grandfather, dad, uncles, and cousins possessed somehow skipped me.

So this month’s “Making It” cover story (page 38) feels especially intimidating. Sit at a loom and weave, shape clay into pottery, form silver into fine jewelry? Puh-lease. Not with these hands.

Since arriving in New Mexico, I’ve used my feet as a way to connect with the land and experience its beauty. While hiking, I’ve loved encountering new terrain, wildflowers, birds, and animals. Mile after mile, season upon season, it keeps me curious and wanting more, because you never know when an unexpected flash of brilliance might occur.

In mid-August, my wife, daughter, and I headed to the Jemez Mountains’ Las Conchas Trail, where summer rains had swelled the river and decorated the surrounding meadows with wildflowers and greenery. We’d hiked here before, but never like this. As we rounded a bend a mile or so in, I spotted what looked suspiciously like hops. But here, growing wild in the mountains? I thought. Couldn’t be.

Hops get loaded into a harvester during a demonstration at the Santa Fe Beer and Food Festival at Las Golondrinas. Photograph by Steve Gleydura. Photograph by Steve Gleydura

As fate would have it, we’d attended the Santa Fe Beer and Food Festival at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, in La Ciénega, the weekend before. During the festivities, we witnessed the fruits of the museum’s two-year-old hops-growing program, hand-sorted some of the crop, and enjoyed a taste of Las Golondrinas Gold, the delicious result of a partnership between the property and Beer Creek Brewing.

So we plucked a couple hops flowers and rolled them between our fingers like they’d done at Las Golondrinas. The scent was unmistakable. That tiny bit of hands-on knowledge made our hike much richer. I only wish I’d gone on one of Dryland Wilds’s foraging hikes so I could have identified the other goodies we saw.

Maybe you’re not ready to pick up a jewelry stamping tool, but this issue offers plenty of incentive to try—even if, like me, you’ve built up a lifetime of inhibitions. So here’s to getting our hands dirty, learning something new, and setting out on a path to deepen our connection to this enchanting place.

Read more: Native New Mexican hops, called neomexicanus, are coming to a brewery near you.