Last week there was a New Mexico Judges Conference in Angel Fire. It ran all week and Bill and I went: He attended the conference and I goofed off.
I have visited Angel Fire before, but never stayed the night. My daughter-in-law April came from there, and her parents, Linda and J.T. Trujillo, still live there. They love it, and our mutual grandchildren, Ellie and Robert, do too. But I know how much snow they get and have always wondered how you live with all that snow, skiing and tourists. I wonder no more.
We went the back way from Edgewood to Mora, on a road that barely has two lanes. It is the most scenic of anything I have ever seen of New Mexico in 58 years. The spring was incredible. The open meadows out of Mora were right out of a catalog that pictured the view and gave the caption “heart melting.” The trees were almost at full bloom and the blossoms were everything that Washington D.C. advertises as the best. They have been attracting visitors to for years with their cherry blossom festival. I have been to D.C. and we should send them invitations to New Mexico spring.
Then, the exciting part (sort of like the “Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona, Spain), only it was “Don’t Hit the Elk or Else,” in Angel Fire, New Mexico. We saw four herds of elk just strolling along on the road, crossing the road in absolutely No Hurry. And did I mention deer? No? Well, they were there also, and I don’t think they were signed in for the conference. As the sun set on those beautiful mountains, I knew why people tough it out when the snow falls. The homes there are mostly second homes for people who like both summer and winter in the mountains. The lodges are well-used but hospitable.
Angel Fire is small on amenities, but large on courtesy. When I left my car keys at the pizza shop on the second floor of the town mall, the young man who waited on me ran them down two flights of stairs to me. The resort town is a little like Edgewood—we have limited access to restaurants and so do they.
The great part of the conference was a get-together at Judge Richard Hill and his wife Sherry’s home. They hosted a dinner party with delicious lasagna, great spinach salad and tasty garlic bread. There was a chill in the air and the food hit the spot. Sherry is originally from Iowa, like me, so we passed Jell-O recipes in code. (Bill says people from Iowa have a secret Jell-O handshake.) The highlight of the evening was Judge Michael Rael, from Questa. He is Glen Campbell, Al Hurricane and Trini Lopez all rolled into one. He plays a 9-string guitar that he taught himself. Yes, nine. If you can ask, he can play everything from Hootenanny, to popular, to classical Spanish. Judge Rael has it all. We even had a little sing-along and that was great fun. Lucky for us there were no cameras to appear on CNN.
Of the conference, Bill and most of the judges expressed that the topics were covered by excellent communicators and they all got a lot out of it. I am pleased to report that a large section of our local municipal judges are women. Often, they have worked for the town or the court system and take a keen interest on what is required by law to be a judge. At a time when politics, seem so complicated, to have real members of the towns who have the rights of people and the rule of law as their guiding stars, we are grateful for their rapt interest and attention to duty. Roaring Mouse, not speeding, looking out for moose and squirrel.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.