Bookworks, in Albuquerque, and Collected Works, in Santa Fe. Both these shops are vibrant, busy, warm, welcoming, and thriving--and so are the women who own and run them. Impressive. Two new books came home in my suitcase: Jack London's Dog, by Dirk Wales, with handsome illustrations by Barry Moser--this is going right into what I'm calling The Future Grandchild Stash--and The Hummingbird's Daugher, by Luis Alberto Urrea, a writer Nancy Rutland, the owner of Bookworks, praised highly.
In my honor--lovely phrase--Lisa threw a large dinner party in her back garden, cooking a feast for twenty friends. She promises to send the recipe for the pork dish smothered in oranges and spinach and cabbage and peppers and cayenne and cumin and I don't know what all else, but I'm still waiting...I promise to share it too. We spent all day dashing back and forth to stores for candles, hurricane lamps, cocktail napkins, crackers, wine, champagne, and more candles. Candles are the secret to a good party. You can never have too many. Candles, and good wine. Shadows, of the heart and of the light, keep conversation going.
We talked late into the night. Santa Fe must have one of the driest climates I've ever been in--and it was brutally hot. Unusual, Lisa said. I say, welcome to the future. But wouldn't you know it? Right in the middle of dinner, a small gray cloud floated into the sky, obscured the moon, sprinkled a bit of rain, and then exited. We were all so astonished that we sat through the drizzle. Our clothes were dry again moments later. As I snatch any opportunity to hurl cliches around, I said to Lisa, "Into every life a little rain must fall." She just raised an eyebrow and said, "Good. Otherwise how are you going to grow?"
A party is at its best when it is over, to my mind, when everyone is gone, the table is cleared, but the chairs are still scattered about, just as your guests have left them. Lisa and I poured a last glass of wine and finally relaxed, curled up under the stars on a sofa--that's the nice thing about a dry, hot climate: you can have entire living rooms outdoors. As we chatted about who said what to whom and why, our whispers lingered under the towering silver cottonwoods, the night breezes rustled and shivered the leaves, the candles guttered and burned blue, and ghosts settled in amicably around us. The present may indeed be the only real moment, but the allure of the instant passed is astonishing.