Bread Loaf/New Mexico: This is Where I Belong
Longtime Bread Loaf/Santa Fe faculty member Jesse Alemán reflects, “At 25, Bread Loaf New Mexico has come of age in Santa Fe, the ‘City Different’ as it’s called for its unique sense of style, architecture, history, culture, and arts, and in turn, Bread Loaf students and faculty have brought their own brand of learning, teaching, curiosity, and commitment to the City Different, cultivating the richness of a Bread Loaf education under the New Mexico sun. It’s humbling to think Bread Loaf New Mexico turns 25 in a city founded in 1610 and in a region inhabited for much, much longer. Yet in its short time, Bread Loaf New Mexico has lived up to the spirit of the place—captivating, rugged, and beautifully inspiring in and out of the classroom.”
In modestly sidestepping our request for a quote, current on-site director Cheryl Glenn reminded us of the thrill artists from DH Lawrence to Georgia O’Keeffe have felt upon encountering New Mexico. O’Keeffe, she said, wrote to Alfred Stieglitz, “Well! Well! Well! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me it was like this?…This is where I belong.”
A Deep Connection
With the guidance of Bread Loaf staff, students have for twenty-five summers cultivated a connection to New Mexico of the sort that can only come from walking the land, breathing the air, and opening eyes to its beauty. Collected here are images from Bread Loaf hikes and other outdoor excursions.
The Dawn Patrol
In the fall 2014 Bread Loaf newsletter, we published a brief reflection on the Dawn Patrol tradition by Alfredo Lujan MA ‘87. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Bread Loaf in New Mexico, we thought we’d share his piece in its entirety:
A ceremonial trek up Monte Sol behind the dorms at St. John’s College marks the symbolic opening of Bread Loaf/Santa Fe. We perch on an outcrop, waiting for the glorious moment when the sun silently breaks the Sangre de Cristo Mountains horizon. We then walk to the summit for a 360-degree view of northern New Mexico.
“Dawn Patrol” at BLSF began in the early ‘90’s, when professor Val Smith and I hiked most mornings at St. John’s and later at the Native American Preparatory School. We were joined by students and other faculty members, like Michael Armstrong, from time to time. The tradition was firmly established in 2007, when 5-10 hikers committed to the hike every morning.
All trailheads begin at 6:00 (a.m.!) at our dorms. We walk out the door into an arroyo or up a hillside for one and half hours, Monday through Friday. Seems like work, but no - it’s invigorating! Bonus: on the way back, we’re first at the breakfast line in the dining hall (“the early bird gets the worm”). Every summer we also do off-campus hikes to Tent Rocks, Stewart Lake, or the Audubon Center. Some mantras under which we set our pace are “8000 feet before 8 a.m.;” “9000 before 9;” and “10,000 before 10,” depending on the day.
I wish I could name each wonderful student and faculty member with whom we’ve hiked over the years, but there’s not room enough here (hundreds). Some of those fantastic hikers have continued the tradition at other Bread Loaf campuses or their own schools.
Teri LeSage from Wisconsin sums the hikes up poetically: “Dawn Patrol…some of the greatest lessons of my Bread Loaf education: that the quiet of a mountain trail may birth friendships…that pink dawns with rainbow skies make getting up before the sun worth it…that you can hold all of New Mexico in your hands after a rainstorm - it smells of sage, pinons, and Earth…that there are some things books can’t teach…slow down. Breathe…feel alive again.”