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Take advantage of summer’s ‘golden hour’


In late May and early June we were lucky to have some cooler days, clouds and a little variety in our weather. My one complaint is my usual one after living 25 years in southern New Mexico: A lot of cloudy threatening looking skies producing little to no rain.

Soon enough we’ll settle into that long relentless streak of hot days that won’t let up until October.

Regardless how hot the days get, though, here in Las Cruces we can still count on pleasant, comfortable and gloriously beautiful mornings. At least if you get up early enough.

Here are some of the best things to do on a summer morning in the Mesilla Valley.

TAKE A WALK: This is perhaps the simplest, most obvious thing, but nothing beats walking for getting the blood flowing. And when it’s warm, but not too warm, and you have beautiful mountain views to guide you, it can be a little slice of heaven here in the desert. Add two points if you see a roadrunner; subtract five if you see a rattlesnake.

WORK IN YOUR YARD OR GARDEN: Getting your hands a little dirty and exercising your green thumb is peaceful and pleasant on a summer’s morning. Add a point for every flower bloom; subtract a point for every poke from a rose thorn or cactus needle.

HANG OUT WITH YOUR DOG: If you’re blessed to have a good dog, your canine companion can make many morning activities better. Certainly, dogs make the walk nice, but even if you’re just puttering around the kitchen, having the dog around can be nice. Add five points if your dog enables you to meet a new friend; subtract 50 points if you don’t clean up after your dog in a public place.

GO TO WORK EARLY: A lot of us go in to work early, either for want or for need, or just to get some things done before the rest of the office fills in. If you’re doing this in the winter, the dark and the cold takes some of the fun out of it. In the summer, though, the light is bright by 6:30 a.m. and the sun is warm but not yet too hot. Makes you feel like you can accomplish a full day’s work by 9. Plus, you could potentially score some points with your boss.

EXERCISE: I’m not a big fan of running, but if there’s ever a time to do it, a summer morning is best. Morning’s a great time for all exercise, really. Gets your day off to a good start and makes your brain clearer and your mood better. If your exercise requires driving somewhere, it’s much better not having to bundle up and go in the dark. You may not add points, but you’ll burn calories, and maybe subtract some pounds if you do it enough.

TAKE A DRIVE: Summer driving is always better in the morning, before the daytime sun turns your windshield into a magnifying glass held by a curious young boy, and you’re the little red ant. Extra points if you get in the car with no destination in mind, and just let your vibes guide your direction.

BREAKFAST AL FRESCO: Whether it’s a simple cup of coffee or a multi-course meal, dining outside on a New Mexico summer morning is a delight. It’s a perfect way to start a day whether you’ve made it yourself and relaxing on your patio, or you’re at one of our many great restaurants with outdoor seating. Add multiple points if you’re able to mix in some good green chile.

GO TO THE LIBRARY: Thomas Branigan Library Downtown is now back open for browsing. Morning is a great time to peruse the aisle, and pick up a couple of interesting titles to read right then or save for later in the day. Add points for every new thing you learn.

GO TO THE DUMP: Maybe this doesn’t sound as delightful as some of the other items, but bear with me. We all feel a little lighter when we get rid of things we no longer need. If you have to make that trip to drag stuff to the dump, or even just to recycle a few glass items, it’s always better to start early and get done soon. Ten points if you cleared enough space from your garage to park your car and keep it out of the summer heat.

TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS: Photographers often talk about the “golden hour,” that time just after sunrise, or just before sunset, when the angle of the sun’s rays creates a beautiful magic light. Regardless of your skill level, your photos will look noticeably better when you take them after rising early. For extra points, take your best pic, make a print and get it framed. A great way to have a personalized home decoration.

In fact, that light makes anything you do in the golden hour noticeably better.

Richard Coltharp