I’d like to devote some words to one of my great loves – a love that has gone neglected in this blog for too long:
Last weekend was one of my favorite Albuquerque festivals: the Lavender in the Village Festival. Held every summer (except for that one year when it went on hiatus), the Lavender Festival boasts not one, not two, but three venues in Albuquerque’s North Valley neighborhood. Frankly, we folks from other parts of town just get excited for the chance to be around so many tall trees.
The first venue, kind of the festival’s “home base,” is an actual lavender farm. Here, festival-goers can walk along fragrant rows of flowers, pick their own lavender, and buy all kinds of lavender products, from soap to the dried stuff for cooking. This year, you could even buy lavender lemonade or lavender sorbet to enjoy (particularly delicious on a weekend as scorching as this past one) while perusing the other attractions of the “home base,” such as:
• Animals! Various animal breeders and rescue/protection programs proudly showed off their critters to educate and entertain. There was an owl, two or three kinds of hawks, a miniature donkey, a mule, and – oh my Lord – BABY ALPACAS. I fervently tried to think of a way to take one home, but came up with nil. Maybe next time.
• Music! Provided by a catchy bluegrass band, the tunes put an unquestionable bounce in my step. I’m sure people would have been dancing, but we were all too busy gulping down our lavender lemonades and trying to stay cool.
• Food! I will say that I nibbled on one of those giant turkey legs for the first time in my life, and that is all. P.S.: It was magnificent.
• Art! What would any festival be without local artists hawking their wares? Maybe it was the lingering taste of smoked turkey in my mouth, or the heady aroma of lavender everywhere, or maybe it was mild dehydration, but I happily succumbed to temptation and bought two pieces of sunflower art.
Another venue at the festival was the Casa Rondena Winery. After strolling purposefully around the first venue, it felt fabulous to just…sit. On grass, no less. Under a tree. By water. You Albuquerque people will understand my excitement here. Casa Rondena looks and feels like somebody plopped a Mediterranean villa in the middle of the high desert. Yet it works. They have a dimly-lit, classy little tasting room, which I walked right through. I knew what I wanted: lavender sangria, made for this event only. Y-U-M.
Here’s a recipe for summertime afternoon bliss: Procure one cup of lavender sangria. Mosey over to an empty patch of grass, preferably under the shade of a cottonwood and within toe-dipping distance of a (okay, man-made) pond. Repeat to taste.
I wish I could tell you more about the third venue, which was a local elementary school, but sadly, time ran out and the festival closed for the day. I did hear good things, about it, though!
‘Tis the season for festivals. Whether they’re centered around flowers, food, or just for the sake of having a festival…here’s to savoring every drop!