When you reach the point in life when there are fewer years in your future than there are in your past, the concept of a bucket list becomes increasingly intriguing.
The 2007 movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman probably brought the idea to the forefront of pop culture consciousness, but the question of what to make sure you do before you die is age-old.
So it was hard to resist taking a look at what Pat Hodapp, director of the Santa Fe Public Library, included in her list of suggestions in her book, “The Complete Santa Fe Bucket List.”
The good news is that, in more than a quarter-century in Santa Fe, I’ve experienced more than three-quarters of the items that made her list. Some are a little difficult to judge. When she extols looking at the stars, does it count if I just stared up in the sky on many nights, or did I have to take out a telescope and get a guided tour from an expert? When she warns about walking in arroyos because of flash floods, does it count if I have walked in arroyos and seen flash floods, but never combined the two?
Perhaps even better news is that, of the 20-odd items that I haven’t experienced, I don’t regret most of them. I’m content with my haphazard approach in the kitchen, so I have no desire to sign up for a class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking (although my sister, a wonderful cook, has done just that on one of her visits here).
I also lack a yen for skiing (although I have hiked and looked at fall colors in the Ski Basin), painting, looking at fancy cars at Concorso, or paying money to go on house and garden tours.
And tea is my preferred beverage, so I would scrap Hodapp’s recommendations on great local coffee and head to the tea houses instead.
On the other hand, as her list reminds me, it might be fun some time to go on a Santa Fe ghost tour, attend the Christmas tree lighting on the Plaza (it always happens when I’m at work), check out the Gay Pride or rodeo parades, and attend a powwow. I know. You’d think I would have gone to a powwow by now. Always intended to.
Obviously, such lists are highly personal, something Hodapp freely points out in her book and encourages every reader to come up with his or her own list.
So, looking at Hodapp’s selections, the hole I see is the lack of newness. Sure, if you’re talking iconic Santa Fe, you hang around the Plaza and Museum Hill and the big-name events and attractions that draw people from around the country and world.
Blame it on spending a lifetime in journalism, but I’m often intrigued by newness. Show me something different, something ground-breaking, something I haven’t see before. Sprinkle it with some irreverence, and I’m sold.
So I would tell folks in or coming to Santa Fe to be sure to check out the Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return.
Or the Currents International New Media Festival, which entranced me the first time I stumbled across it and has continued to surprise me with its quirky offerings each year since. (By the way, that festival opens its two-week run in the Railyard tonight.)
The Fantase Fest in DeVargas Park offers a fresh spark, with its skateboarders, low-rider show and performance art, while the AHA Festival of Progressive Arts gives a peek into the sounds, performances and visual delights emerging from the younger creative spirits in our city.
Wise Fool New Mexico and its Thanksgiving weekend performances in the circus arts at the Lensic are close to reaching the iconic stage for Santa Feans, and the Railyard is becoming a solid destination, with its outdoor performances and activities, including the free movies and concerts during the summer. And food trucks – their growing numbers are definitely worth a mention and a taste.
There’s plenty of brain food in Santa Fe, and Hodapp rightly mentions the Lannan Foundation talks, but leaves out the wonderful Santa Fe Institute community lectures. (The recent talk by cartoonist Lynda Barry, by the way, filled almost all the 800-some seats in the Lensic, and delighted the audience with her wit, insights and reports of art and story-telling from children.)
Hodapp’s book points out Santa Fe’s love affair with dogs, but addresses the West’s steadfast equine companions only in a rodeo context. You can find a rental at a nearby stable for a guided trail ride, or head over to one of the events at HIPICO to soak up the elite world of jumping competition.
Keep driving down the extension of Airport Road past the airport and past HIPICO, and you can pull into the parking lot at a county open lands site and crawl over rocks to discover a banquet of petroglyphs. Or head up to Mesa Prieta north of Española for a reserved, guided tour on private trails there (hey, it’s fair, Hodapp wandered past the city with some of her recommendations) or find a local who can tell you about some of the other sites.
And while Hodapp mentioned hiking, biking and skiing, I would add my long-time favorite, whitewater rafting. Again, that takes you up around Taos and down toward Pilar, but the river itself is sort of in the neighborhood.
Enough. As Hodapp writes in her introduction, the book is her list of personal favorites. But she adds, “Much of the joy in Santa Fe is discovering those places that have special meaning to you. Explore and have fun!”
And she leaves three pages in the back to write your own personal list. It would be fascinating to see how they vary among different people. Little League baseball, a yoga retreat, karaoke, Buddhist meditation, matanzas and more could easily make the cut.
Some of the proceeds from Hodapp’s book sales, by the way, will go to the library’s Spanish/Bilingual Books and Babies programs.