At this time of year, the gallery-studded street lacked the allure of spring when lilacs in bloom draped adobe walls and drooped over carved gates. Although they were long gone, he could still smell their sweet perfume. Spring seemed a lifetime ago. In the summer the streets hummed with tourists and locals as they meandered from one art showing to the next. In the fall the chamisa blossomed. All beautiful, but he loved Christmas best: adobes warmed by the ever-present piñon fire and thousands of farolitos outlining the rooftops and bordering the streets. A magical season.
Today the monochromatic landscape had begun to melt, revealing patches of blue, yellow, and red, artificial color peeking through the snow. Retailers called the metal forms yard art. Paco called them a poor substitute for real flowers.
Ahead, the gallery popped into view. He walked slowly past the adobe. Looked no different than it had on his last visit weeks ago. An old home converted into a fine arts establishment. A white picket fence enclosed the front courtyard, the garden a mixture of browns and black. Over the gate bowed a nude tree, its branches arching to a cloudless sky. On one limb a cluster of dried leaves rustled in the soft breeze. In the center of the courtyard, the twisted vines of a dormant lilac choked a concrete Neptune placed among dead monarda. Water pooled on the flagstones at the feet of a kinetic sculpture, the focal point of the garden.
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