West of downtown stands Old Town, Albuquerque’s original commercial and residential area. It consists of houses―many, not surprisingly, pueblo-revival style; perhaps even some of authentic adobe brick─that border a plaza that includes a handsome gazebo, shops and restaurants catering largely to tourists, and an ancient Catholic church with an attached former convent. In February, under portals on the east side of the plaza, bundled-up Indians from the nearby pueblos sit with infinite patience on folding chairs or directly on the concrete and flagstones as they display their exquisite jewelry for sale.
North of Old Town, in a place known as the Sawmill District, stood the headquarters of the lumber company where I was to work. While the company harvested timber from, and had a number of mills in, rural New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and even Mississippi, I liked the fact that its Albuquerque headquarters also had a mill for processing logs trucked in from northern New Mexico. Thus, a sweet piney fragrance, a scent of the wilderness in the depths of the city, wafted over the company’s twenty-five-acre property.