Thursday, March 22, 2012

Do we need more state symbols?

By S. Derrickson Moore
dmoore@lcsun-news.com
LAS CRUCES — It’s three months into New Mexico’s statehood centennial. Do you know where your state bird is — or even WHAT bird is our official state symbol?
It’s the roadrunner of course, a wonderful critter that would also be my nominee for a proposed new category of official state pet, after the happy years I spent with Errol, a dashing and companionable bird who hung out in the rafters outside my bedroom when I lived on the slopes of Picacho Peak.
You, too, could find yourself pondering the best things about the Land of Enchantment after a visit to “It’s all Symbolic: The State Symbols of New Mexico,” currently on exhibit at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum.
I was familiar with most of our official symbols and was intrigued with the interactive portion of the exhibit, which welcomes suggestions to add, change or eliminate symbols.
Some say we may many have too many state songs (in addition to Elizabeth Garrett’s “O, Fair New Mexico” we also have an official state ballad, plus cowboy, bilingual and Spanish songs).
Are we limiting ourselves with “hot air balloon” as our official aircraft? What about rockets, Roswell’s UFOs and Richard Branson’s new spaceships launching from our very own Spaceport America?
We are apparently lacking such crucial categories as an official state breakfast (huevos rancheros was suggested, but my pick would be green chile chicken blue corn enchiladas, good for any meal or snack).
Here are some of the ideas that museum visitors have suggested for additional categories.
State food: Chile. !Si, bueno! This would also eliminate the controversy over whether it should be our state vegetable or fruit. It’s our everything.
State mountains? The category was blank the day I visited, but it’s obvious: The Organs, of course.
State nut? Top nominees were pecan and peanut, but piñon is a contender, though it already holds state tree status.
State pet? Dogs were winning, but I’m open to suggestions. Dogs seem very happy here, but cats probably think they rule the state, along with the rest of the universe.
Cattle breeds? Corriente was one suggestion at the museum. It’s not my area of expertise, but I’d like to see some nod to the buffalo, especially since we’re doing so much to bring them back on Ted Turner’s nearby spread.
Some things are so obvious that it might be fine to let them go without officially saying: Our architectural style is clearly adobe, for instance. Door decoration (and seasoning and snack resource) could only be the chile ristra.
State occupation? Opinions seem divided between “artist” or “rocket scientist.” Let’s call it a tie — a tie that could only happen in New Mexico — and that’s yet another reason I officially love living here.
What do you think? Are we missing some crucial, official state categories? Is it time to retire a few symbols or make some additions and substitutions? Look over the list and let me know. E-mail me at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, drop me a line: S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, 715 E. Idaho Ave., Bldg. 4, Las Cruces, NM 88001, or go to www.lcsun-news.com and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style and add your comment to New Mexico Symbols column.

New Mexico Symbols, Emblems, & Icons

Aircraft: hot air balloon
Amphibian: New Mexico Spadefoot Toad
Animal: black bear
State Ballad: “Land of Enchantment — New Mexico”
State Bilingual Song: “Mi Lindo Nuevo Mexico”
State Cowboy Song: “Under the New Mexico Skies”
State Song: “O, Fair New Mexico,” by Elizabeth Garrett
Spanish Language Song: “Asi Es Nuevo Mejico”
Bird: roadrunner (chaparral bird)
Butterfly: Sandia hairstreak butterfly
Colors: red and yellow
Cookie: biscochito
Fish: New Mexico cutthroat trout (Rio Grande cutthroat trout)
Flower: yucca flower
Fossil: Coelophysis (small late Triassic dinosaur)
Gem: turquoise
Grass: blue grama grass
State Historic Railroad: Cumbres and Toltec scenic railroad
Insect: tarantula hawk wasp
Motto: “It grows as it goes” (Crescit eundo)
Slogan: “Everybody is somebody in New Mexico”
Nickname: “The Land of Enchantment”
Poem: “A Nuevo Mexico” by Luis Tafoya
Reptile: New Mexico whiptail lizard
Tie: bolo tie
Tree: piñon tree
Vegetables: chile and frijole
Source: www.statesymbolsusa.org.,awesome america.com., NMFRHM

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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