Whew! Hopefully, you’re over the Zoom hiccups, finding joy in morning walks with the dogs, and slowing down a bit. But you could also be just a tad stir-crazy, missing your routine, and worrying about any social contact. Probably, you’re fluctuating among all these feelings. Wherever you are in these unprecedented times, we get it—and want to help you navigate them with some fun and worthwhile things to do this weekend. Just remember that all activities should be done in accordance with the governor's mandate and public health orders, and the best way to slow the spread of the virus is to stay home.
Listen to chants by Benedictine monks.
In the sandy hills near Abiquiú stands the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. Built by renowned Japanese American architect and woodworker George Nakashima, the monastery has spirit house vibes, like an adobe version of something from the imagination of Hayao Miyazaki. Its spire, topped with a cross, reaches into blue skies; its adobe tones match the surrounding cliffs. The Benedictine monks who live in the secluded sanctuary, 13 miles down a dirt road, practice chanting as part of their monastic ritual. And although services have been suspended, you can find a few moments of meditative respite in their online recording of Ave Maria. If you need more to quiet your mind, purchase their CD, which contains 23 chants.
Perk up your planting.
If ever there was an opportunity to get your yard and garden in epic shape, now is the time to get your hands dirty and bring a little outdoor beauty to your abode. Although the Santa Fe Botanical Garden may be closed, its team is still bringing botanical knowledge to the public with online Zoom talks and classes. This weekend Tracy Neal, who has been working with trees at nurseries in the Santa Fe area since 1986, teaches a two-day “Plants for Sante Fe” course that highlights the best trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials to weather climate change and thrive in Santa Fe for seasons to come.
Let someone else read to the kiddos.
Every Tuesday, Misty Carty, museum educator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, reads a new children’s story and demonstrates related educational craft activities as part of the Science Story Time series online. Carty has read stories (available on YouTube and perfect for this weekend) about the seasons with directions on how to make a sundial and about the moon with a craft that showed families how to make phases-of-the-moon garlands. Well-suited for kids from kindergarten to fifth grade, the activities can be completed with things most people have around the house, like paper, scissors, and tape. “My husband and I are both working from home and we understand the situation New Mexico families with school-age children are currently wading through,” says Carty, who has a first grader and a third grader at home. "Keeping them engaged and learning now that their routine has been upended is very important.” This week, she’s planning a book on eclipses and a video tutorial on how to make dinosaur eggs at home.
Hike it out.
In New Mexico, we’re blessed with a bounty of trails, which vary in difficulty and landscape. With all this extra time to yourself, it’s time to find an unfamiliar path.
El Malpais National Monument, east of Albuquerque near Grants, is an ancient volcanic area that offers stunning vistas and interesting rock formations created when the area was live with lava. The visitor’s center is closed, and no caving permits can be issued right now, but the trails remain open. The Zuni-Acoma trail is strenuous—7.5 miles one way—so don’t attempt it unless you’re an experienced hiker. The 2-mile Big Tubes Area winds through cool rock formations and lava bridges. There are even picnic tables, in case you want to have lunch al fresco. Consider leaving the pups at home for this one, the sharp lava rocks can be painful on their paws.
The Fort Bayard trails just outside Silver City are a network of mountain routes. Dragonfly Loop is a particularly pleasant 3.8-mile jaunt, with little incline or decline, and petroglyphs galore, including ones of the trail’s namesake dragonfly. Remember not to touch them, leave only footprints, and take only memories.
Break out the colored pencils.
The Albuquerque Museum is offering free coloring book images of works and objects from the museum’s collection for download. Choose from paintings by Tom Palmore and Ed Garman, an old Route 66 sign, a mixed-media sculpture by Tony Price, and a traditional bulto (a carved wooden sculpture of a Catholic saint) of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. Each comes with a short description of the work and its significance, so the kids can learn something new and connect to New Mexico culture while they color.