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Delaney: New Mexico

07/05/10 5:55PM By Dennis Delaney
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(HOST) Commentator Dennis Delaney spent some time recently in a part of the country that's about as far from Vermont as you can get - and still be in the continental United States.

(DELANEY) I had the great pleasure to spend the winter and spring months on the faculty of New Mexico State University. A friend of mine quipped: "Well, that's a creative way to dodge the snow, sleet, freezing rain, burst pipes - and even the Vermont legislature." It was.

Our American Southwest is magnificent for its blazing sun, blue skies, and the incredible splendor of its mountains. That said, and as awesome as the Southwest was, I am still a Vermonter, and sometimes a homesick one.

In New Mexico I often missed moisture in the air. No kidding. For those of you listening to this who remember slogging home in a snowstorm that may have turned to sleet or freezing rain, you could call me naive. But all of us who have felt the damp touch of snowflakes on our faces know what I am saying. And what Vermonter would not miss the colors of autumn with its virile and heady bouquet as nature slides into sleep for the winter?

But our New Mexican sisters and brothers have a message for anyone who will look and listen. That state, whose settlement began over 400 years ago, boasts a majority Hispanic population and, more than some places, a deep patriotism. Any place you go, another language, Spanish, is a dominant and dynamic coin of communication. And New Mexico showcases a rich and exciting culture - an American treasure, I would say.

I don't say this because the language is more musical than English, although it is, or because skin may be of a different shade, or that the culture has other value points; but because it is America at the same time. We are not cookie-cutter citizens. We are still E pluribus unum, one from many, with accent on pluribus.

For a Yankee like me it was the everyday delights of New Mexico that I loved. If you like your food hot, and I do, then New Mexico can offer you a man-size burrito smothered in red chili for breakfast. If that doesn't fire up your jets for the day, then you are from another planet. If you enjoy a cold Mexican beer, and I do, with moisture dripping down its sides, then New Mexico is the place. And the way beer is served just tickles my prim and proper New England fancy. Go to a local restaurant, not some bland franchise, and order a beer with your enchiladas. You'll get the beer, but what you probably will not get is a glass. Unless you're a real dainty dude, who needs a glass for a cold beer anyway? There's something very basic about grabbing a bottle and chugging down a few swallows without resorting to a glass.

On the downside, there is a negative out there that we don't have in Vermont, and that's a regular occurrence of scandal in government, usually on the state level. I think we Vermonters forget how squeaky clean we are. I'll drink to that.
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