Above: Illustration by Brett Affrunti.
NEARLY FOUR DECADES AGO, I moved to New Mexico very much for winter—as a place to ski, to schuss down slopes above Santa Fe and Taos, and to enjoy hearty dishes like green chile stew, relaxing in front of a roaring fire. The snows, though, melted away into blooming lilacs and crabapples, and spring segued into impossibly blue-sky days.
Imagine my delight as I discovered the comfort of a low-humidity summer, of days that didn’t heat up until late morning and cooled down as soon as the sun slipped behind the peaks that surround my home in the Tesuque Valley. I grew up in central Illinois, where summer was hot and muggy. Nights, in the pre-air-conditioning era, were stifling. These amazing New Mexico summers were a surprise, a bonus, a gift.
Now I rarely go indoors from the end of May through late August, except to take shelter from the occasional summer monsoon. Even those are fascinating, pelting rain that moves in and out, rainbows reflecting the light while the earth releases the fragrance of sage and cedar.
To enjoy the season, there’s not a lot of reason I need to leave Tesuque, a semi-rural village just north of Santa Fe, where it’s still not uncommon to see someone ride by on horseback. My own shaded outdoor room, the walled courtyard of my 100-year-old adobe, beckons me to enjoy a slow start to the day, or to return to for an evening glass of wine. Some nights are even cool enough for a fire in the outdoor fireplace, where I grill steaks or cook up paella or toast marshmallows, in addition to just enjoying the sight of logs ablaze, burning down to coals. All around me, I can pluck greens and herbs for a salad and, in June, eat my fill of cherries from the trees nurtured by my late husband. Out here, behind a ridge that blocks much of the light from nearby Santa Fe, it’s dark enough to see the creamy swath of the Milky Way, and frequent shooting stars on which to make a wish.
By the light of day, I can hike or just stroll the neighborhood. Loads of people bike down our village’s main byway, Bishop’s Lodge Road, but with the narrow road’s scenic twists and turns, that’s a risk I no longer take. Within walking distance, though, the Glenn Green Galleries & Sculpture Garden and Shidoni Gallery and Sculpture Garden offer large-scale sculptures spread out over acres of lawns. At Shidoni, I walk toward the back of the property where the village’s creek runs in the shade of overhanging trees and think of the hours my stepdaughter Heather used to spend playing there as a child.
Depending on my mood, I can easily walk to the funky front porch of the Tesuque Village Market for tacos and a margarita or to the more elegant El Nido for an Aperol spritz and Italian food. The Santa Fe Opera perches on the other side of my valley. And I love simply everything about the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado, my very favorite summer neighborhood destination, elevated enough that the entire valley—across to distinctive Redondo Peak—spreads out in front of me.
I still ski the nearby mountains on occasion, but I enjoy every single day of summer, my special gift.