Here are some stories about water.
I am fascinated by its absence; here in the high desert the dry earth is something I have both feared and revered. A dweller of mesas and arroyos, water remains elusive to me; it is a half-remembered dream.
My family moved to Albuquerque when I was twelve. Before that, we lived on the edge of the Navajo Nation. There was an arid beauty there, expansive and windblown. I remember being driven to small fishing lakes in Navajoland and not being able to believe that so much water could gather in one place.
Sometimes I would wander around the mesas and arroyos, almost drifting across them like a bird, finding waterholes and scratching up clay from the surrounding soil.
We went to Gallup often, shopped at place called Trademart and ate at various restaurants with names like "The Ranch Kitchen" or "Mucho Burger." On the weekends, the old man would drive us to Albuquerque, to visit friends and relatives.
Driving around the state with my father - who was oddly enough, a sailor - at the helm of a car he called a boat, my brother and I would hang our heads out the windows and scream in defiance of the water towers we passed.
They were monumental and mysterious and contained a force mostly unknown to us: the gathering together of powers we had only seen during the rare days of late summer thunderstorms, that we had only waded through, shin deep, in murky rivulets and ponds.
Here was that force, personified and unified, in mighty metal towers. The travels we took with the dude seemed to begin and end with those risen behemoths.
The towers loomed on this horizon and that. I suppose we imagined them to be a type of metallic creature, robots which might careen out of control at any time, drowning us with both malevolent size and watery contents.
The old man would glance in the rear view mirror and laugh and cuss when he saw one approaching; my mother would turn up the radio and prepare for the worst.
I grew older and stopped screaming. But water remained an elusory aspect of my world. By the time we finally moved to Burque, I remember standing at the edge of the Rio Grande, staring.
When I asked my father about this utterly strange phenomenon, a river that flowed, he said the world was a watery place, that my confusion was contrary to the way of nature. Water was a precious substance that made a difficult and dangerous magic, he warned.
And so, he also taught us to swim, mostly at pools around town. There was one at the Albuquerque Country Club. There was another at the Mountainside YMCA. Our favorite became a pool called the A-Pool. It was a public pool located near Pennsylvania and Menaul. It was shaped like a gigantic letter A.
To further pique our interest in the water, he would also make us watch the Val De La O show.
The Val De La O was a local teevee show that was broadcast live on Saturday mornings, from the KOB studios, in the 1970s and 1980s.
Besides providing entertaining Nuevo Mexicano music for my then young and beautiful parents to dance to, De La O featured a variety of fascinating celebrities as guests. One of his frequent visitors was Johnny Weissmuller.
Weissmuller was an Olympic swimmer who had risen to fame portraying Tarzan in the movies. By the time of my childhood, he had retired from his fictional vine-swinging, vicious lion and Nazi-fighting duties and often visited Albuquerque.
My father hoped that Tarzan's recollections of his watery exploits would encourage us to become safe and strong swimmers, despite the lack of water all around us.
He was mostly right.
Years later, long after De La O and his hilarious sidekick Mario Leyva (he was sort of like the Duke City version of Cantinflas, sabes?) had taken their leave of the studios on Coal Avenue, I nearly drowned in the Gila River.
My brother and I were camping with some other undergrads and decided to hike along the east fork of the river. The twin warned me that the spring rains spelled treachery, but I ignored his admonitions. I decided to cross the swollen river.
In transit, I slipped on a rock, fell and was pushed under the torrent. The current was swift. I could not lift myself against it, and became submerged in it. It was surprisingly quiet down there. I began to see pictures of my life being paraded around the backs of my eyelids.
When I had just about given up, I saw an image of a water tower rising above a dusty road. On that road, a super stock Pontiac roared along with kids screaming in the back seat and Jefferson Airplane blasting out of the open windows.
And like that tower, which held water, I decided to rise. Like that car which sought out water, I moved, somehow resurgent, somehow robotic. Lifting my head up out of the Gila River, I took a deep breath and did as I had been trained to do.
My brother was standing on the bank of the river, screaming.
This is what he shouted as I climbed up on a rock, loud enough to be heard over the din of the water, which was roaring like a beast: "Who in the hell do you think you are, Tarzan?"
That night, back in the student ghetto, I dreamt of clay, of arroyos and dust.
I'm standing in a cave with water flowing in and out. The tide is coming in but I'm not panicking, in fact, I'm enjoying myself. I'm playing with a mysterious animal. I think it's an eel, but I can't see anything except the torso because the animal wants to be petted. It's dark and slimy and squirming and keeps slipping out of my arms, which can barely wrap around the torso.
There is no direct light, just what little comes in from the outside. I can't see outside the cave except the brief moments between when the waves are entering the cave or receding.
I'm giggling at the creature.
I wake up.
Baker H. Morrow, professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of N.M., will be at Page One Books at 3pm on Sunday, May 1, to talk about and sign his updated non-fiction effort, Best Plants for New Mexico Gardens and Landscapes: Keyed to Cities and Regions in New Mexico and Adjacent Areas, Revised and Expanded Edition.
The book is described as such: "First published in 1995, this invaluable guide to the trees, shrubs, ground covers, and smaller plants that thrive in New Mexico's many life zones and growing areas is now available in a long-awaited new edition. Landscape architect Baker H. Morrow considers the significant factors that impact planting in New Mexico—including soil conditions, altitude, drought, urban expansion, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation—to provide the tools for successful gardens and landscapes in the state. Added photographs and sketches identify the forms and uses of plants, including many new species that have become widely available in the region since the 1990s. The latest recommendations for specific cities and towns include more photos for ease of reference, and botanical names have also been updated. With ingenuity and efficient water management, Morrow demonstrates how to create landscapes that provide shade, color, oxygen, soil protection, windscreening and outdoor enjoyment."
Morrow, Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, has been a principal of Morrow Reardon Wilkinson Miller, Ltd., Landscape Architects for the past 36 years. Morrow is Professor of Practice of Landscape Architecture at the University of New Mexico (since 1975), where he is the founder of the MLA program in the School of Architecture and Planning. A third-generation New Mexican, he is the author of a number of books, including Best Plants for New Mexico Gardens and Landscapes and A Dictionary of Landscape Architecture, and the co-editor of Canyon Gardens: The Ancient Pueblo Landscapes of the American Southwest. Morrow is an award-winning landscape architect, experienced at working with stakeholders on pressing issues in both English and Spanish. He and his firm have received over 90 design awards and citations since 1980. Practicing in New Mexico and the surrounding area, he has served as project manager and principal in charge for more than 3000 projects. Among Professor Morrow’s award winning projects are the Journal Center, the New Mexico State Fairgrounds entries, Park Square, Dietz Farm Plaza, Children’s Psychiatric Center at UNM, St. Joseph Square, the Albuquerque Academy, and Yale Boulevard in Albuquerque.
Page One Books is located at 5850 Eubank NE, Suite B-41, in Albuquerque's Mountain Run Shopping Center (southeast corner of Eubank and Juan Tabo). The Morrow event is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 294-2026 or visit www.page1book.com.
Read about the state senator responsible for the lottery scholarship.
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Insurance companies failing to pay the Department of Health for vaccines has doctors turning away patients.
An Oklahoma company is pushing for a zoning exemption to begin drilling for oil in Rio Rancho.
Arizona and the US Department of the Interior are making plans for a diversion of the Gila river that threatens its ecology.
Babe I love you, but I'm a T-Rex
Freeman had a good idea of what was going to go on later that night, but didn't let on until he was sure his father had passed out in the living room from a twelve pack of Lowenbrau Dark and the stress that comes from designing nuclear weapons for a living.
He crept out into the garage, yanked down the back gate of the old man's red and white FJ55 and dragged the inflatable raft out the storage bay. Duck feathers and dog hair went flying everywhere, but finally the raft was on the cement floor.
He went back in for a moment and made sure Harold was comfortable, threw a blanket over him for effect, while the old master snored and snored away. Then he got on the phone, dragging the handset—and the ten foot coiled plastic cord that followed it everywhere—into a pantry by the kitchen, for privacy.
On the other end of a connection made possible by manipulating a rotating plastic wheel with the index finger, Alexander listened intently while Freeman layed out his idea: They were going to climb up on top of the big water tank that was nestled in the foothills by the high school.
Using stealth, a pair of bolt cutters taken from shop class—while Mr. Duran was hamming it up on the table saw—and of course, Harold's prized hunting raft, they were going to float around and maybe even take a swim in the largest artificial body of water either Eagle Scout could ever imagine.
Alexander's folks were running some sort of high-
Alex locked Arcoiris the retriever in the back bedroom and grabbed the keys to his van. It was a forest green Dodge that comfortably sat eight. Alexander and his friends called it the Congo van, mostly because they imagined one day taking it on a road trip to Africa or somewhere thereabouts.
Before he got to Freeman's pad, he stopped at Sherri's place, which was only two doors down. It was a sprawling ranch-style with a weeping willow and heaps of lava rock in front. He convinced Sherri and her pal Barbara to join in on the action. The two gals climbed out a bedroom window.
Both of them lit up Salems as they took a seat in the very back of the Dodge. Put on KFMG Sherri said, they are playing a special on the new Pink Floyd album. Alexander grimaced and spit out the window. He already heard Animals; it sucked. So, he tuned the radio to KRST instead, and started headbanging to some song or other about a Green Manalishi. The group drove by Allsups and picked up a dozen burritos and a twelve pack of Jolt Cola for luck.
By this time, Freeman was waiting out in the drive way, had folded the inflatable raft into a lumpy bundle. He was anxious to get going and when Alexander arrived, ran up to the Congo van and started shouting about how they didn't have all night and for crissakes, why'd he bring Sherri and Barbara along?
Just in case the unexpected happens, said Alexander, plus which, both of them can drive a five speed and that ought to count for something.
It was no trouble climbing up to the top of the water tank, hell there was even a staircase. Sherri and Barbara stayed in the van with a walkie talkie, six of the Jolts, and all of the burritos. That was meant to be a reward to be bestowed when Alexander and Freeman returned, wetly triumphant.
As Freeman cut the chains that locked the door at the very top of the tank, Alexander dragged the raft into position. Once past the gate, they lugged the raft and a 50 foot rappelling rope over the top. At the center of the tank there was a simple but awfully large metal grate. They struggled to lift the grate. Finally it gave way and rolled off the tower, clanging and tolling like a church bell when it hit the asphalt below.
Alexander made a bowline knot around one of the stair-railings and threw the rope down into the dark hole. Freeman hit the inflate button and tossed the raft down there too. Both of the scouts activated their flashlights and left their hiking boots at the edge of the water tower's maw. Freeman stared at his watch.
Alexander got on the walkie talkie. Barbara and Sherri were on the other side, parked down the road a ways, by the Temple of the Nazarene. He told them if they didn't hear back in exactly two minutes, one of them ought to come up the stairs with the flare gun while the other drives over to Fire Station 16 to tell what happened.
They found a fancy secret railway tunnel between San Diego and Tijuana.
Chinese submarines can get us.
An angry bar brawler brandished a chainsaw.
The determined mouse struggled with his cracker.
Here’s my vote for coolest Halloween candy.
What’s the most popular Halloween candy?
Bone up on blood sucking with this TED-Ed vampire cartoon.
Should we build a Death Star?
We’re closer to understanding why warm water freezes faster than cold water.
Watch out for nostril ticks.
Somebody stole a donation box from Donut Mart.
Spend some time with the street apes of Jakarta.
Admission to the State Fair is free for everyone today! Go eat something fried!
Two days after the Navy Yard shootings, the usual idiots are saying the usual idiotic things. Things like "False flag," "crisis actors," "Obama," and "conspiracy."
A muddy coal slide, or perhaps a coal-y mud slide, slopped its way through Madrid, NM on Sunday night.
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A Tennessee judge has ruled that it's okay to name your baby "Messiah." Just in case you want your kid to have that particular reason to hate you for the rest of their life.
A pipeline pumping molasses from Hawaii to California, which is totally a real thing, ruptured last week, spilling 233,000 gallons of the delicious-
And, as of yesterday, you may no longer bring ferrets into Arizona restaurants. Miniature horses are still cool, though.
Something royal this way comes ...
Police have identified one of three murder victims in East Cleveland, and they've charged 35-year-old Michael Madison with three counts of aggravated murder.
German roller-coaster manufacturer is sending experts to Arlington, Texas to investigate the death of a victim who died while riding the Texas Giant over the weekend.
Mohammed Morsi, recently ousted president of Egypt, has gone missing, and family claims he was "abducted by army."
Police are investigating the drowning of 19-year-old Matthew Mares in Los Lunas that happened over the weekend.
APD to testify today in court in a wrongful death lawsuit in relation to the shooting of 27-year-old Christopher Torres in 2011.
Carlsbad farmers could possibly receive less than half the water allotted to them from a network of wells that pump groundwater into the Pecos river.
In a nutshell: If you fake cancer and take $9,000 in donations from your community, then you're probably gonna go to jail.
An Arizona wildfire claims the lives of 19 firefighters.
Zimmerman trial update: The jury was able to listen to Zimmerman's interview tape from the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting, which could give clues as to who the "aggressor" was.
Europe wants to know if the U.S. has been bugging them ... otherwise, we can kiss that trans-Atlantic free trade agreement bye-bye.
Sen. Karen Peterson and her partner, Vikki Bandy, become first same-sex couple to legally marry in Delaware!
Wait a minute ... so that's one well (or spring) for 290 water systems? So, what's plan B?
New Mexico orders another trial for Manuel Turrietta, who was convicted for killing Alberto Sandoval in 2006 in a gang-related shooting.
Ashley Browder's memorial banner taken down from the corner of Paseo Del Norte and Eagle Ranch Road.
Wow Claudia! That's a whole pound of meth! How'd you get that in there?
Hello sir, I believe this arm is yours ...