I got an email from a couple who were looking for the best place to spend their retirement and wanted the lowdown on Magdalena, one of the places they were looking at.
I can’t remember exactly how I replied – short of rechecking my email “sent” folder – but as I never once regretted relocating back in 2003, well … it was a no-brainer.
In my 20 years of covering the news here, one gets to appreciate not only the obvious but also the little things, and I’ve gone off more than once about how people have it A-OK living in New Mexico. In fact, I’ve reason to believe they’re the envy of some of those who don’t.
One thing, just about every single person I know says they feel fortunate to be living here.
This goes double for Socorro as well. I mean, Socorro and Magdalena are just plain ol’ easy places to live where people are generally accepting and nice to each other. Just try to greet a stranger walking toward you on the sidewalk in Albuquerque and see what happens.
That’s one of the things we have going for us, and I’ll admit this sounds oh so hackneyed, but it’s the sense of community. That’s why people who grow up here and move away, end up moving back to stay.
By coincidence, just last week, I got an email from a website called worldatlas.com that named Socorro as one of the “Eight Coziest Small Towns In New Mexico.” Frankly, cozy is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking up a description for Socorro, but I’ll take it, especially compared to the seven other towns on the list: Lordsburg, Española, Carlsbad, TorC, Aztec, Ruidoso and Roswell. Hmmm … no contest.
Anyway, the article points out that in addition to a thriving local music scene, Socorro boasts the Plaza, hometown breweries, nearby VLA, the Quebradas Backcountry Byway, two wildlife refuges, and world-class performances at Macey Center. I might emphatically add to that, the best chile in the whole wide world.
But of course, not everything is lollipops and roses, and I’ve heard some call the Land of Enchantment “The Land of Entrapment,” although I’m not really sure exactly what that means.
And do I need to mention that there are some people out there who either don’t know, don’t believe, or aren’t sure that New Mexico is a state?
Back on the interweb, there is a Facebook page called “Only In New Mexico” that ballyhoos the state’s unique and sometimes little-known places, as well as what it’s like living here. One of the postings that caught my eye is titled “15 Things You Quickly Learn When You Move To New Mexico,” a list of things you can brag (or complain) about to your friends back east.
The list includes chile roasters, of course, as well as starry dark skies, a unique history, double rainbows, and glorious sunsets among others, but the one entry that caught my attention was There Are More Shades of Brown Than You Can Imagine. Even if you can imagine a lot.
They say that one of the first things transplants seem to remark on after moving to the southwest is brown. Brown, brown, brown. In Socorro County, you’ll likely see the color brown as much as the green of the riverine of the Rio Grande.
It reminded me of something novelist Wallace Stegner wrote one time. To appreciate the West, he said, “You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns…”
And yet, there are plenty who consider New Mexico as one of the most exotic places in the lower 48. The tourist mecca of Santa Fe is one of the reasons for that (because of all the press it gets). Otherwise, those who have visited and spent vacations in this part of the state go back home raving about the sky and mountains and desert and how friendly the people are.
That neighborliness is a legacy that dates back to when members of the Piro pueblo offered food and succor to the first Europeans to stop at what is now Socorro following their trek on the Jornada del Muerto.
OK, so we don’t have things like Meow Wolf or a Gucci store, but IMHO we have something better.
My goodness, what’s gotten into me? I just used a dreaded social media shorthand there. May I say, “In my humble opinion,” instead? I mean, OMG!
It seems I’ve lost track of my original thesis and am starting to ramble.
All I can say is the nice part about retiring in Socorro or Magdalena is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, just ask around. Someone else does.