Saturday, June 16, 2007
It seems like you'd feel the effects of drinking bad water pretty quickly, say within 24 hours. So we should be in the clear. It was Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the community pot-luck, when Jeremiah mentioned that flooding of the acequia brought water in to the well-house, contaminating the water. He'd never found animals or their droppings in the house and thought we should be fine. Just wanted to inform us.
Much of our work here at New Buffalo has been dedicated to building the two wonders of the composting world. Thursday morning, in the shadow of the first pile, the walls of the second collapsed as we tried to square it. Wood chips. Their thirst requires endless time with the hose. Time which could be spent shoveling manure and bringing over the next wet bale of straw. I went to the acequia for buckets of water. There'd been some trouble and plenty of talk about the water. Water rights are a hot topic, a point of conflict that has sprouted books and major motion pictures. Here, the acequia didn't start running the day it should have. The ditch walls need repair. No, the ditch needs widening. The water flooded a corner of the greenhouse. A break in the wall creates a wetland for a young grove of drought tolerant trees. Yesterday's wall retrofit protects the adobe that sits five feet from the irrigation ditch, on lower ground. Maybe we should turn the water off. No, better to let it run over the land. If we don't use it, they'll take it away. The people in Seco will be really mad if we just let the water go back to the river, wasted. Five-gallons at a time, carefully, I pull water from the channel to the compost until it's time for planting.
Following Machei's lead, we planted cucumber and squash in a double square pattern, gardening French-intensive style. Until we noticed water flowing into the sunflower bed. We grab shovels. Our work to contain the too rapid current is interrupted by down-stream David of the straw bale mansion. Do we know that we're creating too much dirt in the water, hurting his fish pond? The acequia gate isn't supposed to be open all the way. He gestures, laughs angrily. Our ditches aren't fully operational. For thirty minutes he talks as the three of us who know nothing of the water system continue shoveling. He, semi-long term resident now being negatively impacted by too much water, doesn't go up the hill and correct the flow himself. We later learn that a day earlier he told Aslin and the Buffalo girls they couldn't play on his trampoline. Because even if they did play with his kids, it wouldn't be in their hearts.
Plenty of characters around. We hiked to some hot springs along the Rio Grande with a kinder, more interesting person. Between wild roses and river willow, carefully avoiding nettles, we walked along the Rio Hondo, eyes open for petroglyphs. A waterfall, not there when we walked a couple days ago and never before seen by the locals we accompanied, thundered down the cliff. Could it be the mismanaged water? Five of us worked our way across the branches littering the base of the falls. One of us, who against advice opted not to wear shoes, lost his right flip flop. Had we known it was another two-miles to the springs, we'd have turned back. The warm pool was swarmed by little green flies, the cool by mosquitoes. We relaxed none the less, resting before the steep path of lava rock up from the gorge followed by a long walk home.
We'd given in to our need for rest and were headed for a shade tree when Manzie thumbed a ride from three fisherman. Seven of us piled in the back of their pick-up, counting our blessings. A fine story to narrate over dinner shared with the family who welcomed us here.
It's been great. Thanks to Nyna, Machei, Madrone, Manzie, Magnolia, and all at New Buffalo.