There's a big difference between looking
between encountering and discovering. My high school in T. or C. played
sports against Magdalena all the time. I knew where Magdalena was.
it was named for the likeness of Mary Magdalene on the mountain south
town. I knew it was part of the Beefsteak Trail cattle route. But I
know Magdalena -- I knew about Magdalena.
Then, last December, I got caught in a
on I-25 and pulled over in Socorro. I was trapped in the Super-8
with nothing to do but -- euchhh -- read. And I had just one book:
New Mexico: Celebrating 100 Years of Frontier Living," by the Magdalena
Old Timers' Association. I had procured the book only days before while
passing through Magdalena. So I settled down and started.
The Old Timers turned out to be great
company. I read
about Marshal Daniel Archuleta and Mayor Clayton Hust. I learned
fighting coyotes and about traveling across the county by wagon and
how difficult it is to raise sheep. That part made me a little hungry,
so after reading about the snow-bound train that ran backwards from
to Socorro, I went next door to the K-Bobs to eat, taking my book with
me. I continued reading at the table in the quiet restaurant, the snow
still falling outside. Not counting the stuffed moosehead on the wall
decorated with Santa hat and Rudolph nose -- there were only four souls
in the restaurant. But reading the stories of those whose lives shaped
Magdalena, I was hardly lonely.
I finished the book as I finished my
had filled and nourished me. I considered leaving the book on the table
as part of the tip, but couldn't bring myself to part company yet with
the people I had just met.
I'm grateful for the snow that stranded
me in Socorro.
It forced Magdalena out of my periphery and set it down in front
of me, in the words of the people who knew it best. Now when I think of
things unnoticed, I'll think about Magdalena. I'll think about the
Tavern and the Magdalena Hotel and the bump on my chin and probably
the moosehead with the Santa hat. But mostly I'll think about Mary
up there watching it all. Lucky her.