“Reflections On Abiquiu Lake”
Color pencil on paper, 13X19″, 2018
I work at Whole Foods in Santa Fe, it is a workplace bustling with movement, people, sounds, music…there’s not a quiet moment. I kind of like that, I like interacting with people, I like the casual conversations that take place.
Sometimes those casual conversations stay in my thoughts for days. Like the guy I met who had traveled around Sweden right after 9/11. Of Mexican/middle eastern descent, he raised a lot of eyebrows when hitchhiking around Dalarna in the north parts of Sweden. He said people were friendly but also kind of suspicious and a little scared of him. There’s a Mora in Sweden and a Mora here in New Mexico, a funny coincidence.
Yesterday I met another man from Denmark. The Danish accent is pretty easy to spot and as he was asking about the coffee set up, I could hear clearly where he was from. We started talking and I asked how he ended up around here. He said he had come here 29 years ago for work and he never went back. Now he lives outside Alamosa in Colorado by the great sand dunes. He said he loves the wide open spaces, the vastness of the landscape. There’s nothing like it in Denmark. Not in Sweden either for that matter. He said he hates the politics, but loves the people and touching on the subject of politics in Europe – Sweden and Denmark both – he got quiet and I could tell he was trying to find the right words, but he just shook his head and said “there are so many bad things going on…”
A few weeks ago, I had a lady asking about our bread selection and I recommended our Prussian Rye loaf, a dark, dense, rich bread that reminds me about the breads my dad would bake when I was a kid, growing up in Sweden. She said: “I’m from Sweden!” “Oh, so you speak Swedish then?” I asked
“Of course!” she said and then told me in Swedish that she was from Uppsala and that her name was Birgitta. She had lived here for more than 20 years and she had no plans of moving back.
Then there’s the young mother who comes in with her two kids. She speaks a little bit of Swedish as she lived there for a year or two as a student and every time we meet, I teach her boy a Swedish word.
Of all the emigrants from Sweden/Denmark, the one thing they all say is that they don’t want to go back. They all hate the political situation here in the US, but there is something about this land that grabs a hold of you, something about the wide open spaces, the people…the freedom…I say freedom reluctantly, because there is little freedom when it comes to the politics, healthcare and so on, but there is a lot of freedom in the landscapes, the wide open spaces, the mountains and valleys, the deserts, the small towns and the big cities like New York and Houston and I love it. There are so many things I have yet to see and one of these days I hope to get my hands on a camper van and drive all around these united states of mixed emotions and see it all up close.
One day I will travel the wide open spaces.
For now, however, I have to settle for little snippets of stories from the strangers I meet at Whole Foods here in little Santa Fe.