LAS CRUCES — There’s a lot to see and do this time of year. Fiestas. Fairs. Art openings. Plays. Concerts. Games. Back to school.
And a lot to ponder. What will the new spaceport really look like, when it’s finished and embedded in the desert? And what about the new city hall and the new federal building?
How are things coming along on the Downtown Mall?
It’s the best time of year to check things out. Instead of stopping to smell the roses, it strikes me as a good time to do some low-key multitasking. Combine your workout — or at least part of it — with your own personal state-of-the-community assessment.
Take your daily walk around your own neighborhood and then head for someplace new, even if it’s just a neighborhood a mile or two away.
I realized it was time for a new regimen during a recent Sunday hike. I found myself counting steps, something I haven’t done since I was trying to figure out if I was anywhere close to what seems to be the new gold standard of 10,000 steps per day. This time, what inspired me was a documentary on the Titanic, which reported that the ill-fated ship was 880 feet long.
I started counting steps as I headed down a street with a clear sight line, trying not to lose count as I greeted neighborhood dogs along the way. At step 880, I looked back up the hill to the big yellow bulldozer parked where I’d started. That was one humungous ship, all right.
Then I counted patches where water line repair crews had torn up my relatively new street. There were at least 23 patches in just one block. I plan to compare that with other blocks in the region.
I’ve been trying to go a little earlier to the Saturday Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market. Going early improves your chances to get the best fruit and veggies and you can fit in a little hike before things get too crowded. It’s a nice opportunity to admire the Rio Grande Theatre showplace block and ponder the potential for the rest of the Downtown Mall, or Main Street Downtown, as it’s now officially known.
Expand your walk from the Branigan Library, past the construction sites for the new city hall and federal building and imagine what Las Cruces will look like in a few more years.
You might even uncover some interesting migration tales, like the wandering saguaro.
The formidable cactus that once dwelled on the grounds of Las Cruces City Hall has now moved to a corner of the Branigan Cultural Center. Last time I checked, it was still in rehab, supported by some cables and scaffolding, but it appears to be doing well. Apparently it’s a time when even ancient saguaros are happy about taking a walk around the block.
Mesilla is another fun place to check out. Start at the Mesilla Plaza and circle in any direction and you’re likely to be surprised at all the changes. Rigorous design guidelines have ensured that the new homes and galleries usually fit in nicely with the historic structures in the area, but those of us who have been ambling through the area for a couple of decades may miss some of the funky old vacant lots and crumbling old adobes.
Lalo Natividad has also taught me to hike with an artistic, historic or architectural theme in mind. He once took me on a tour to point out tile murals with religious themes in Mesilla.
Sometimes I look for things like colorful doors and picturesque gates.
While all this purposeful trekking keeps things interesting, there are times when it’s most rewarding to leave the iPod with the review CDs and the self-improvement or teach-yourself-Chinese lessons at home, along with any mission at all.
That time is magic day, a concept shared by my sister when I lived in sweltering South Florida. Magic day is the first time there’s a break in the heat and humidity, when the ocean breezes and cooling temperatures make ambling a delight instead of cruel and unusual punishment.
Here’s it’s more like magic season. It’s that time of year in spring or fall when it’s not too hot or too cool or too dry or too humid or too windy or too anything. When there’s the perfect ratio of lapis blue sky to fluffy clouds, when there’s a gentle breeze but no threat of sandblasting. When your routine layer of SPF lotion feels like it’s just right for you to feel good about absorbing a nourishing hit of Vitamin D.
It the time when ambling through high desert country is a reward in itself, just about the most perfect way to spend a beautiful fall day.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at email@example.com