A place – a Table – A Candle

We had been hiking since early morning, returned to our room, and were ready for a good meal – a satisfactory repast to close a memorable day. Time for our favorite restaurant in Santa Fe – up Canyon Road amid the wonderful galleries and shops. The evening demanded it. Sure I still enjoy campsites, dinner from an open fire, the conversations as the day draws to a close; always will. But occasionally one has to spread oneself: dine on fine food with fine wine, served by skilled waiters; white table cloths, full place settings, soft music, candles to enhance the mood. The Compound.

Shown to an elegant table well placed against an adobe wall, we order wine, look over the menu, catch our breath, and talk about the day, about Kasha-Katuwe–Tent Rocks National Monument down next to Cochiti Pueblo Reservation. Kasha–Katuwe: “white rocks” in the Pueblo language Keresan. We talk about the art we’ve seen along Canyon Road, museums we’ve visited, and about venues enjoyed on this Fall trip to the magic of Santa Fe.

After a while I look more closely at the table across from us: table for two awaiting its first guests of the evening, white table cloth, candle in the middle, glass door giving out on to an intimate southwestern patio, surrounded by adobe walls and warmed by subdued lighting. A stunning setting, enhanced by the fading light of a setting sun. The candle seems to burn brighter as evening comes on.

On this particular table there is a second candle a little bigger than its companion, off center but strategically placed to heighten reflections from the glass door behind. A contemplative moment. Who will come in and take their places at the table? Where will they have been, what will be on their minds: the galleries, Santa Fe in the early Fall, perchance Kasha-Katuwe? This lone off-center candle increasingly draws my attention as its glow strengthens, gently dominating now the scene. Surely someone will answer its beckoning candescence.

There is a companionship in that candle; it is more than a simple wax form. It is luminescent, it is clean, it is warm and welcoming, it waits expectantly to shine on good company and good food and wine. It is all of that to each of us drawn to its light, in commonality with each other. Setting, décor, design, atmosphere–the whole tableau—speaks to us. And with feelings of harmony and approval we silently nod our heads. A fine moment, honored as all fine moments should be.

And as we rise to depart, the hostess is pulling out one of the chairs for a couple who has just arrived. Their moment now begins; our moment is complete.

With an assist from my friend Nancy Olmstead.


The Country is going to Hell! We know this because the doomsayers, supported – inadvertently, I’m sure, or am I . . . – by media running 24-7 who tell us so. And insist that we get the message by constantly rubbing it in.

I put together this list of woe at the breakfast table the other morning:

  • People don’t have jobs, or, they don’t have the job they want, or they are not fairly paid for the job they have;
  • Our healthcare system – particularly the ACA, otherwise known as “Obama Care” – does not work;
  • “Immigration” (this term must be in quotes today) threatens our very fabric;
  • Our education system stinks and student debt soars;
  • Our infrastructure is crumbling;
  • Our individual rights are being eroded;
  • We don’t get proper respect from the world;
  • Terrorism will eventually get us all.

Forgive me if I left out your favorite. But not to worry, someone is sure to hit it before the day is out.

Well, aside from the fact I don’t buy into half the gloom I list, I can’t deny that a good many of our fellows are really pissed. The “system” isn’t working; “gridlock” abounds. Okay, okay . . . . Of course I know I must make allowances – after all – it’s an election year! And there are serious problems which must be addressed.

I offer here a different scenario; a pursuit, “system,” a worthy system, which does work, which addresses problems and resolves them – every day. It works haltingly as expected of most endeavors involving large number of human beings, but actually, it works rather well: our legal system, in the vernacular, the law. I offer a brief roadmap:

  • Congress or your Legislature writes legislation protecting say, . . . the environment;
  • The President or the Governor signs off; the legislation becomes law;
  • Government agencies write regulations to explain legislative intentions and guide private and public behavior;
  • Despite the best efforts of those concerned, something bad happens, or appears to happen;
  • Folks affected hunt down a lawyer who reviews the situation and advises them;
  • The lawyer, finding reasonable grounds, writes up a complaint and takes it down to the courthouse, where the court reviews or handles the matter according to time tested rules and principles;
  • The judge, or the jury, make a determination regarding the merits and outcome of the case;
  • This decision, assuming it withstands any appeals, becomes enforceable on the parties;
  • Various legal and law enforcement authorities will enforce the decision.

This appears straight-forward, but we all know getting through this process can be laborious and expensive, to say the least. Specific outcomes may be unsatisfactory to many of us. But, since it does work, there must be reasons why. My next blog will examine some of these.