Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Epiphany on the Road from Raton

Chamisa Blooming

There is something about the open plains and a totally straight line of highway for mile after mile which frees the mind to think. On this trip back from Trinidad I was thinking of so many other trips across the plains in the last few years and the difference rain can make. I want to use the word lush but so many in the east will not understand that used in this context.

The grass, already beginning to go gold because of night temperatures looked so thick and so long in spots you almost felt it would be difficult to walk through. And indeed a lot of the locals were not walking. One of this herd of buffalo got up when I walked (waded) to the fence line. The grass was up to my knees and almost up to their bellies. They definitely looked well fed.

Buffalo on the Vermejo Park Ranch

Even the post rut Pronghorn Antelope were too stuffed to move much. A rather nervous animal in the best of times this one even allowed me to get out of my truck to get a better angle. He was not about to move from his patch of long green grass. And one can hardly blame him. In his lifetime it has been difficult to find. This spring as I drove through this area I wondered it it would ever recover. I was not just grass grazed to nubbins but bare earth in large expanses.




And all the stock ponds and catch basins and streams were dry. We all laughed about the Canadian River. Bridges seemed to be unnecessary, another government boondoggle. All the fishermen in my valley complained about the water being released from Eagle Nest lake per water rights owned by ranchers, and treaties with other communities and states. Eagle Nest is at about half capacity. And even with the monsoons more seems to be going out than coming in.

Draining the lake has been going on for at least four years. The drought in the plains a bit longer and the water we trapped was the survival for the plains. So the stock pond below was a cause for celebration. I apologize for the power lines. I took this photo primarily for my sister who was last here when this body of water was not.


Water

And there was water in the Canadian River and Ponil Creek. And many more stock ponds dotting the eastern plains. The rest of the world is all upset about ISIS and Iraq and Iran and Israel (what is it about I's), but few of us here in New Mexico care much. We do have Weapons of Mass Destruction because we built them in Los Alamos and the other states of the United States have shipped their atomic wastes and weapons of war here to our "wasteland" to store.

Here we are excited about grass and water. We are angry at politicians from the east for ignoring climate change and letting Phoenix (a desert community which gets at best 4" of rain) mist their sidewalks with water which came from the peaks of Colorado, also in a drought. If water is to be expended it should be to grow pasture, not lawns, to feed livestock and native residents both two and four footed. We measure the water used and the height of the grass, not the strokes on a golf course.

Standing guard

Those hot spots that begin with the letter I had their rights ignored too for too long. Nations decided borders and policy based on what was true of the G8. And the politicos in Washington decide what they think is right for the states with the biggest electoral votes. But it is the lessor folk that built this nation and we are getting upset at being ignored. There are 30 states in the US with petitions to leave the union. Nobody will miss our electoral votes but they might miss our produce, water, and those stored nuclear weapons.

Wars have fought over water and war will be fought over water again.



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