SANTA FE STORIES

By Carmella Padilla

THE DANCING GRANDFATHER. "Yee-Hah!" The cry rips through the crowd like a firecracker on the loose as the funny-looking figure who exclaims it skips madly between two rows of masked dancers. Their faces veiled in brilliant strands of jewels, beads, ribbon and fringe, the dancers move together in perfect rhythm, perfect step. Strains of fiddle and guitar mesmerize the audience until, in some outrageous act of silliness, the whip-wielding wild man inserts himself into the scene.

PLAYING WITH FIRE. The early morning sun is still mixing with shadows over Apodaca Hill when Tomas Arrey dons a pair of faded overalls, slides heavy black gloves over his weathered hands, and lights a pitch-and-kindling fire in his hilltop workshop. Cold hangs in the air from the winter just past, but before long, Arrey has perspiration dripping from beneath the blackened brim of his well-worn hat. "If you can't stand the heat," he says with a smirk, "get out of the fragua." REST OF STORY.

TIO CELSO. The photograph is faded and fuzzy. An elderly man of small stature, his hair and beard a shaggy gray, sits upright in a slatted wooden chair. In his knotty right hand, he clutches a cane carved to curl into the shape of a horse's head. His brown eyes sink like shadows between high cheekbones and bushy brows. And a gentle, jolly smile emerges from his lips. REST OF STORY.

A FAMILY AFFAIR. Early one morning in 1921, Alfonsa Vigil opened the door to her family's new general store in the village of Chimayo. As she waited for the first customers to arrive, Vigil looked out upon the scenic Potrero, a grassy stretch of pastureland, where the store stood just west of the legendary Santuario de Chimayo. "May God bless each and every one that comes through these doors," she said. REST OF STORY.

THE CHILE CHRONICLES. There are approximately 44 million acres of farmland in New Mexico and nearly 14,000 farms. Of that land, an average of 30,000 acres is devoted to chile each year, grown among an estimated 250 to 300 farmers across the state. Since 1990, those farmers have consistently made chile one of the two most profitable crops in New Mexico. REST OF STORY.


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