As often happens with me, but not often enough, I drifted onto a Calvin Trillin trail this morning. He wrote one of my favorite descriptions of Santa Fe. Here’s the key passage, which I keep framed in my affordable, some-distance-from-Santa Fe home to remind me of certain habits and lifestyle developments I mean to avoid:
“We had spent the summer in New Mexico, and, during a brief stop in Santa Fe, we had been grilled on why we live in New York by that group of Eastern-refugee remittance men the place specializes in — people who have retired at forty-two in order to devote themselves to talking about a novel they might write and overseeing the repairs of any cracks that might develop in the adobe walls of their house and discussing water rights their land carries by virtue of the original Spanish land grant and raising a herd of twelve or fourteen particularly elegant goats.”
This is from Trillin’s 1974 essay, “The Dance of the Restaurant Trotters,” which I found in his book “The Tummy Trilogy.”
The Trillin essay reminds me in turn of a Warren Miller cartoon from The New Yorker, which I clipped from my subscription long ago and also have framed on a wall.
One of the highlights of my journalism career came when Trillin mentioned a story I wrote for the Santa Fe Reporter in 1982 in his U.S. Journal: Santa Fe, N.M., piece in The New Yorker in March of the same year, “Thy Neighbor’s Roof.” My story was about a flap over the appearance of that roof on Upper Cerro Gordo Road. Truth be known, I have not become more famous than Trillin’s one-sentence mention of me 32 years ago, but the real value, then and now, simply was in recognition by a literary hero. I still hope it was straight-faced.