By S. Derrickson Moore
ORGAN. — The wonders of the Land of Enchantment never cease to amaze me.
Even with roots that stretch back several decades in New Mexico and after journeying thousands of miles to do travel features for newspapers and magazines, I’m still surprised at the new and old treasures to be discovered.
Sometimes, in my own backyard — almost literally.
I was reminded of that when I went to interview Bud and Nancy Abernathy for today’s feature on their efforts to restore old buildings and open a museum in the little mountain foothills community of Organ.
It was one of those great winter days when the sun was bright and the mercury was climbing toward 60 between cold snaps. I decided to make an afternoon of it.
Where else but in New Mexico?
Within a 10-minute drive from downtown Las Cruces to Organ, I can walk through the history of the space program at the Space Murals Museum, chow down on stir-fried Thai veggies with hot or super hot sauce, pick up some freeze-dried astronaut ice cream for dessert and climb a mountain, if I’m in the mood.
I’m usually not, but it’s good to know the mountains are there, and that I live near a teeny village that has such intriguing treats at my beck and call.
And it was a reminder that I should follow the siren call of the undiscovered more often, even if it appears ever-so-humble and no place worth investigating, when I’m only a few minutes from home.
I remember wandering through Organ briefly, on the way back from Ruidoso one day, not long after I moved to Las Cruces. I still remember picking up some finds in a cute little shop and vaguely recall seeing a kind of diner or bar which looked interesting, and in recent years, meaning to investigate reports of an exotic café that friends raved about.
And yes, indeed, Thai Delights has some of the best, crunchy-fresh, subtly savory veggie stir fry I’ve experienced, and I spent two decades living in the Pacific Coast center of some great examples of the genre, so my standards are high. I also loved the response when I asked for an explanation of spicy menus options that ranged from mild and medium to “hot” and “Thai hot.” The waitress eloquently calibrated the heat with references to specific varieties of red and green chiles familiar to all Mesilla Valley chile aficionados.
The cozy little café was festooned with a mural by Mesilla artist Preciliana Sandoval and offered a showcase stocked with Wanda Robert's home-baked all-American cheesecakes, pineapple upside down cake and blueberry streusel cream pie.
And all this eclectic exotica is nested in the same old adobe building that was once the Organ Mercantile Company and now also houses a new museum and gift shop.
Zipping by on Highway 70 en route to other places, I had no idea I’d been passing an intriguing little enclave of old adobes dating back to the 1800s ... and a committed couple who have dedicated a big part of their lives for several decades to preserving a unique history now being shared in their new museum.
I was fortunate to get a behind-the-scenes tour that included tales of legendary lawmen and miners and glimpses of secret courtyards and old-growth cactus stands, peacocks and stables, schoolyards and cemeteries and even a treehouse.
But I would have settled for the museum and café, more than enough to justify a little drive or merit a stop with visiting friends and relatives, the ones you trust and feel would appreciate the joys of our querencia. But be careful and selective.
Once the wonders — big and small — of our territory are revealed, I’ve found, an alarming number of people decide to move here.
If they aren’t our soul mates, just grumble about those old run-down Organ adobes, direct their attention to the mountains, promise them a casino night in Ruidoso or Sunland Park, depending on which way you’re headed, and keep on driving.
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Save that tree: Thanks to all of you who wrote, called and e-mailed about saving that beautiful Chinese Pistache on the Downtown Mall. Many of you wanted to find ways to save all the trees in downtown areas scheduled for renovations. Read your comments and, we hope, some responses from those in charge of renovations, in the Jan. 24 Las Cruces Style column.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at email@example.com, (575) 541-5450