06/24/2008 12:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Potluck and Politics: The Stories People Tell as Summer Dawns

An eclectic group of writers, painters, musicians and actors gathered yesterday in Santa Fe to celebrate the Solstice and the arrival of summer. The food and company were great. The stories were better.

I had never thought about a summer gathering of artists where the stories would be all about politics. In fact, one of the wonderful elements of this kind of event is that we can escape political discussions. Who would have imagined, then, this group all telling stories centering on Barack Obama?

As we stood around the array of food spread across the table -- Greek salad, green chili enchiladas, black bean salad, corn and red pepper salad, chicken drumsticks, bowls of chips and salsa, pistachios, and four full feet of table laden with desserts, everything from the ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie to an Italian lemon cream cake, a melting-pot American spread -- I listened to the stories we were telling each other on the eve of summer. Out in the yard the locally-loved Sally Blakemore Orchestra's African marimba rhythms pulsed through the piney woods.

The stories about Barack Obama were hopeful stories, like the tale of the "Baking for Barack" bake sale that had just been held at a local wine shop, all proceeds going to the Obama campaign. Turnout had been strong and Obamaites were heady about the possibilities.

Next rattling around the room came talk of another local gathering planned for next month at a gallery on Canyon Road: Sprouts for Obama, where Blakemore would set up her marimba orchestra and a bunch of little kids would entertain passing crowds. All proceeds again will go to the Obama campaign.

This is, of course, where Obama has excelled in fundraising, the small gathering of small folks in the small towns across America throwing in a buck or two in the hopes of change, and this was the theme of the stories that pulsed around the room, backed by African marimba rhythms, at the Santa Fe potluck Solstice gathering, just one more small town looking forward with hope to the summer of 2008, to the Democratic Convention just up the road in Denver, to the fall and the election -- the realization of the dream -- and then to January 20, 2009, when one scary story would come to an end and another could turn the page on a brand new chapter for America.

Sprouts for Obama. It has an interesting ring to it.