As soon as we crossed the De Baca County line, the baby started wailing.
A deep hard wail — like an old Irish widow watching her last beloved son swallowed by the sea. Loud enough that I was sure I saw a few skittish antelope stiffen in distress. It was an unmitigated wail. Relentless. Indefatigable. The James Bond of wails (Daniel Craig, not Sean Connery).
There were no rest stops in sight. Nothing but the unbroken expanse of rangeland. I was reminded of the advice a nurse gave us right before my wife and I left the hospital with our son: “The days are long, but the months are short.”
We were heading to Lovington for the Downtown Bites Demo Day. I worked with Lovington MainStreet to help design and launch Downtown Bites.
It is an accelerator program for people who want to start a food-service business in Lovington’s downtown core. Cohort participants go through customer and concept validation, regulatory training, and menu design and pricing.
Cohort members also get the chance to test out their food-service concepts in the real world using a shared food truck nicknamed Big Blue. To date, 11 food-service concepts have gone through the program. Everything from Trinidadian curry to lasagna and from Northern New Mexican enchiladas to Louisiana gumbo.
The program has weathered the pandemic well. Demo Day was as much a celebration of that fact as it was a chance to taste some good food and connect with the people making it. I couldn’t believe we started planning the program in 2019. The months are short.
Lovington MainStreet’s executive director was a little bummed about the turnout. It seemed like a sore point. The days are long.
But I thought it was great. There was an incredible representation of businesses from the past two cohorts and a truly impressive success rate. More than a few of the businesses that participated in the program are starting up. Some have already launched — bought food trucks of their own, leased buildings or bought rigs for the fair and other events.
The program helped them take that last step — make taking the chance a little more bearable. The impact was undeniable. But like so many things in life and work, it’s hard to see the good things happening when you’re inside the fray.
We left Lovington late in the morning bound for Carlsbad Caverns. My wife had two T-shirts and a onesie made with “Cavecation” written on them. We were that family, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.
Taking a 6-month-old into the caverns was a risk, especially one with a tendency for loud wails. The days are long.
In the end, we made it through. A little fuss in the Big Room, but we made it to the elevators in time and avoided a meltdown.
As I write this, we are about to pack up and head back to Santa Fe. Tired and a bit worn down, but the risk was worth it. The months are short.