In some circles, the summer of 2019 will go down as the Season of Apricot Madness.
Trees all over Santa Fe produced a bounty like never before. It seemed everyone was looking for ways to eat, bake, process or give away their fruits before they rotted on the ground. My Facebook feed filled with friends’ photos of ambitious creations — and one dramatic shot of a branch that broke under the weight of this year’s unprecedented crop.
The stately old tree just outside our front door was an inheritance from our house’s previous owner, the woman known to the neighborhood kids as Grandma Rogers. She planted it long before we moved in 30 years ago. On average we’ve had a harvest about two years out of five. A late frost often zaps the tiny fruits before they can mature, making a good yield a real summer delight. I remember our son as a toddler reaching up to the low branches to pick his own “apity-tots.” This year a few spring snows and frosts threatened the tree’s delicate white blossoms, but they managed to thread the meteorological needle. Summer rains provided the extra boost.
I’ve gotten so accustomed to news of adverse weather — record heat waves, epic fires, increasingly extreme storms — that I almost don’t quite know what to make of this environmental good fortune. I don’t want to overthink the joy of fresh apricots, but I can’t pretend that this bounty or the lush rains facilitating it are the norm, either. As our climate in the Southwest grows drier and warmer, these lovely trees, introduced by early Spanish settlers, may become embattled. Until then, we’ll reap the bounty.
In the midst of this apricot mania, we were jolted by a darker madness: violence, intolerance and hate. In one horrific weekend, our domestic revelry was shaken by mass shootings with overt racist motivation in El Paso and Dayton. The sense of tranquility we were trying to preserve in jars of jam and trays of cobbler was fractured.
Hate crimes bend all laws of space and time. A mass shooting across the country has a physical and emotional force as if it happened right here, right now.
What a challenge we face, we parents and teachers and friends and mentors, as we try to raise children in the midst of political and environmental turmoil. How do we reassure children about their fears, when we struggle to cope with our own? How do we navigate the turbulence, while remembering that children thrive in an atmosphere of safety and stability?
I’ll be honest: Parenting for me has often involved acts of faking it. In times of national or familial trauma, I try to project a sense of calm I don’t necessarily feel in the moment. Back when my son was in preschool, he asked about the Los Angeles riots that followed the Rodney King beating. (How had he even heard about them?) I first saw TV reports of Columbine while he was in bed with a cold. I had just dropped him off at middle school when I heard on the radio of the 9/11 attacks. Each time, I wondered how to explain the seemingly inexplicable, in ways appropriate to his age and curiosity level. How do I project a sense of stability and safety, when the world feels so unstable and unsafe?
Needless to say, this is never easy — which is why Dr. Chelsea Fleishman’s article “Easing Their Fears” (also translated into Spanish, “Un alivio a sus temores,” by Flor de María Oliva) is so on-the-money. Dr. Chelsea offers coping strategies that teachers have shared with her, as well as her suggestions for when and where to seek help in addressing a child’s deeper, underlying concerns.
Raising children is a challenge under any circumstances, all the more so when we do it in isolation. Yet Jessa Cowdrey, of CHI St. Joseph, notes that children today have an average of only 1.5 meaningful adults in their lives. Home visitation and other support programs decrease insulation and build support networks that reduce abuse and neglect. In her “Child Well-Being is a Community Responsibility,” Cowdrey urges us all to reach out to parents who need support, and report any suspicions of abuse for the sake of children’s health and safety.
Many of our longstanding local institutions provide prime spots for learning and exploring in a safe, enriched environment. You may think you know everything about the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, for example, but Kat Lopez’s article “Open Play” highlights offerings that you will be surprised to discover.
Our Santa Fe Public Library is another constant treasure, beloved for its books, programs and wise librarians. During the school year, a library can build on classroom lessons or take children's interests in whole new directions — without costing you a dime. See wonderful Walter Cook’s article “Time to Read” for a plethora of titles for all ages.
Natanya Civjan’s “Culture Club” article chronicling a visit with her children to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, launches what we hope will be a regular feature, spotlighting Santa Fe museums particularly well-suited for building family memories and cultivating a new generation of museum-lovers.
Gloria Valdez takes us further afield on a day trip to the Moriarty Pumpkin Patch — with a recipe for tasty, colorful Jack-o’-lantern Rice.
If you avoided the Santa Fe Plaza during the crowds and heat of tourist season, Kristen Cox Roby’s article “It’s YOUR Plaza, Too” will inspire you to explore downtown Santa Fe on journeys that will fit any young child’s attention span and appetite, and any parent’s budget.
Communities in Schools of New Mexico, the focus of this issue’s “Noisy Acorns” advocacy column, serves about 50 percent of our public school students with supplemental food, school supplies and clothing, individual and group support, and case management, to provide extra stability many families need. Sonja Thorpe Bohannan’s “Helping Hands” follows one exemplary site coordinator, Stephanie Walther, through a day at Aspen Community School.
Back to school means back to math class. If that triggers objections in your household, Josh Rappaport’s “Bunnies and Turtles and … Algebra? Oh My!” offers tips and tricks for helping your child with math homework. James Taylor, director of the Math Circles Collaborative of New Mexico, offers a fascinating way to explore and enjoy the often-neglected “M” in STEM education.
All in all, there is so much in this wonderful issue to reassure us of how Santa Fe is supporting a stable, safe world for children. Our Fall Calendar and After-School Program Directory will point you to an ever-increasing number of classes and drop-in activities specifically for kids, as well as programs especially for parents. These programs help families find the friendship and connection we need in turbulent times. They help us build the courage that puts the “ape” (I couldn’t resist!) in apricot.
What gives you courage? What gets you through? Share your stories, questions or doubts. We love hearing from you.
And lastly, as I announced in my "Family Meeting!" column in our Summer 2019 issue, I am looking for a new owner for Tumbleweedsafter almost 25 years. If you are interested in exploring this possibility, please call J. Erika Munde, at Sam Goldenberg and Associates, (505) 820-0163. She'll be glad to talk with you.