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Posts Tagged ‘Corrales NM’

purple eggplantIt’s that time again. The harvest is winding down. Jim bought a small basket of red and green chile so we can roast, peel, and freeze a few baggies to pull out in the middle of winter, when our bodies crave the chemical capsaicin (which produces the heat in chile). The air conditioner is closed up, and the heater turned on.

But it’s also time for one of my frequent journeys to Vietnam. I’ve stopped counting how many this makes — surely I’ve used up the fingers on both hands and am now onto my toes. I can tell you that each time I prepare for another trip, I go through the same bizarre process of mental gyrations.



green (and purple striped) beans Wagner's chile




Roma’s Five Stages of Travel Preparation


Stage One: Avoidance. As soon as I know I have to go on a long trip abroad, I put it out of my mind. After all, the trip is weeks, maybe months away. I sometimes neglect to tell even my family; I don’t want them to fret any earlier than necessary. Although I’ve gotten better about this, it would not have been unusual a few years back to hear the following conversation in my household:

ME: Hey, Jim, I did tell you that I’m leaving on Monday to (fill-in-the-blank-country)?

JIM: What?? No, I had no idea.

ME: Oh, I’m sorry. It was spur-of-the-moment.

JIM: You mean, they only gave you four days’ notice?




Stage Two: Nostalgia.
I walk around my house, the patio, my yard, the girls’ rooms with a sweeping sense of loss and dread. How can I leave all this? I don’t want to go. Don’t make me go!!



jelly
Corrales Growers Market with the iPhone, all photos © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Stage Three: Guilt.
Surely my children will be damaged by all my globe-trotting. Don’t people ask me every time I tell them I’m off again, “What about the girls?” I rush around like a crazy woman, trying to make my absence more bearable. I take Em’s Halloween outfit to the seamstress so it will be ready by the time I return. I hang up Dee’s clothes in her closet so she could find them easily while getting ready for school. Jim gets a homemade apple pie–his favorite. So this is what inspired Superwoman, I think.



Stage Four: Panic.
This is the frenzied state I find myself in the day before I leave, my suitcase still not packed. I am relieved to find that my multientry visa is still valid. Whew! It would have been disastrous had it expired. (Been there, done that.) At 8 pm, the hour I should be hitting the sack given that I have to wake up at 3:45 am, I start flinging clothes into my suitcase. It’s cool in Hanoi, hot in the south. Whatever I forget to pack, I’ll just have to buy there. Hmmm, was that a goosebump I just felt?



yellow peppersred potatoes (big ones)
Roma tomatoes




Stage Five: Calm.
Bags are checked, boarding passes in hand. I got an upgrade on the leg from ABQ to SFO. Wandering through airport stores, it dawns on me that I forgot to pack my neck pillow. Pick up a super soft one to add to our collection back home. Also picked up two books I’ve been wanting to read: lit by Mary Karr and Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves. Between the books, my writing and doodle journals, plus a presentation and a bit of writing for work, I will make good use of my alone time. I’m ready for this. Let the fun begin!









A Sampling of (Recent) Vietnam Posts


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The first weekend of May is a special time in the sleepy village where I live.

(A side note on villages: Aren’t they always sleepy? That’s what makes them villages. Not cities; not even towns. Ours truly is a village, incorporated as such in 1971. Hence, it is known as The Village of Corrales, and there has been since I can recall a sign that says something to the effect of “Drive slow and see our animals, drive fast and see our judge.” I know, it’s not the most grammatically correct sign. But what do you expect from a village?)

May 1 and 2 are the days when many of the artists and craftspeople who call Corrales “home” open up their studios and galleries and invite the public to visit.


Corrales Art Studio Tour, poster © 2010 by Krysteen Wazask. All rights reserved.




I am participating in the Corrales Art Studio Tour with two other artists, in a centuries-old former dance hall — now a creative space called Movement Studios — that sits in the center of Corrales.

(A side note on the center of Corrales: You know you’re there when you see a road sign warning Congested Area. Whenever Jim and I approach the sign he coughs and sniffles, at which point I, having forgotten that he does this every time we drive through the village, ask, “Something wrong?” He points to the sign, clears his throat, and says, “Congested Area.”)

Although I am quietly panicking over the fact that I’m behind on making art, I am deeply grateful to be spending the weekend with two talented artists who are also kind and lovely individuals. I’ve known them for only a short while yet I am honored to share this experience with them both.

(A side note on artists: I stand in awe of most simply because I’m blown away by their talent. But not all artists are likable, and there are some I probably wouldn’t choose to get to know. Well, these two artists are people I want to know better. Seeing their art and learning what moves them makes me want to know more about their lives, past and present. They are creative and authentic. Buena gente, as we say in Spanish.)

Here is a bit about them, starting with the one I met first.



_________________________________________________________________________________________________

john toomey





Working Memory-Resurrection-Fern and Working Memory-Hymn-Recording, 30″ x 24″ mixed media paintings, images © 2010 by John Toomey. All rights reserved.



My art is communion with natural form. My imagery, which stems from both observation and improvisation, is born from dreaming upon the horizon, both drifting towards sky and descending into soil. My work is a contemplation of forces that shape, veil, reveal, and reshape forms of nature. It is a dialogue between abstraction and representation, cause and effect, growth and decay.


WORKING MEMORY


I am an artist, arts educator, and twenty-year resident of New Mexico. I teach art to pre-school and elementary aged children at Cottonwood School in Corrales. I make landscape-based abstractions, mostly mixed media paintings on paper. And although I have a profound love for my New Mexico home, it is the landscape of rural west Tennessee that set me on a path towards becoming an artist.

I spent most of my childhood outdoors, roaming and exploring the fields and woods that surrounded my home. As a teen I began to realize an interest for drawing and painting, finding my primary source of inspiration and imagery out in those familiar places. In those fields I dug a well that continues to provide, regardless of where I put down roots.

This is especially true with respect to my current body of work entitled “Working Memory,” a series of paintings in progress that return me to home and deal with the loss of that home. These are mixed-media works on paper, made with acrylic, pastel, watercolor, and bits of organic debris, pressed flowers, leaves, and soil. Most importantly though, this series deals with the ever so gradual loss of my mother as a result of Alzheimer’s disease.

My mom’s greatest love was taking care of our home, gardening and tending to the flowers, trees, and birds. I know her greatest desire was to live out her days in that beautiful place, but sadly she no longer recognizes her family or remembers her flowers.

“Working Memory” is about a boy paying homage to his mother, remembering the gifts that she instilled within him — a deep love of nature and a purposeful connection to place.

I dedicate this work to my mom but also to all who have experienced loss as a result of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.



_________________________________________________________________________________________________

mary hobbs




Bahamas, photo © 2010 by Mary Hobbs. All rights reserved.





I carry my camera with me all the time, photographing my young children and their friends at the grocery store, dentist’s office, just before bed. Watching them at play or in repose, I am compelled to take pictures. This practice is a way for me to discover something profound in everyday mundaneness, to recall events from my own past and explore a child’s emotional landscapes.

I am especially intrigued by how our psychological world can be so different from the physical space we inhabit, how different each child’s experience can be in the same moment — one joyful, the other stressed, another bored.

In a poolside snapshot of a little girl, the traditional touchstones of a carefree childhood — a Popsicle on a sunny day, being wrapped in a warm towel after exiting the pool — are missing. Instead she is surrounded by oversized sneakers, a barrel trash can and rough blades of brass. This image is not so much a photograph of a happy child at the pool, but something more complicated. It is this complication, this juxtaposition of objects in a child’s physical space and the child’s response to this juxtaposition that fascinates me.



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I hope you will come and visit with us on May 1 and 2, in the center of the sleepy village of Corrales. Our address is 4605 Corrales Road (#25, #26, and #27 on the studio tour map). You can see more of John’s and Mary’s art, and my own. You can learn about Movement Studios and the classes that happen there when we’re not inhabiting the space.

We’d love to see friends and strangers, talk about coyotes and snakes and the trials and tribulations of making art and making a living. And just hang. And, well, maybe sell a piece or two.

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Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved

Bat photos provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande
Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved.

 
 
 
There is a cycle in our community that has to do with the seasons at dusk. It begins when our Rio Grande Valley evenings start to warm in spring, pulling us out onto the patio. We look into the purple-orange sky and notice a black flicker here, another there, appearing in herky-jerky fashion. By fall, the air becomes dewy and cool at sunset, and the dancing black flashes are few until finally, they’re gone. This is the coming and going of bats.

Yes, bats. Mice with wings. Strange little critters that frighten some but delight many, including us. They live—or, perhaps the proper term is hang out—on our (ybonesy’s) property in two bat houses that sit on long poles out on the grounds, a sort of summer residence for bats.

Maybe it’s the season, or perhaps fueled by a desire to not take our bat companions for granted, we decided to learn more about these amazing flying mammals. We sent our questions to bat guru Michelle McCaulley, director of the bat program that set up our bat houses and many more like them. Michelle shed light on these nocturnal creatures.
 
 
 
 
 

Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved

 



Fifteen Questions with Michelle McCaulley



Q. You have a pretty unconventional job; can you describe your role as it pertains to bats in the community?

A. I see myself as a biologist—that is actually what my degree is in—and an educator and conservationist, not only when it comes to bats in my community but other animals as well.


Q. How did you get involved in this program?

A. My father, Jim McCaulley, had started the Corrales Bat Habitat Program, installing 30 houses with a small grant from US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners Program in 2002. When he passed away in 2005, I was thrilled and honored to continue with this mission. It was also a chance to do what I love, which is to study animals—in this case, bats.


Q. How long has the program been in existence, and how has it been received in the community?

A. The Corrales Bat Habitat Program began in 2002 with 30 houses. In 2006, the name was changed to Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, and it became a non-profit 501 (3)(c) tax-exempt organization. To date there are over 60 sponsored bat houses, primarily in the Village of Corrales but also around the rest of New Mexico. The Village of Corrales passed a resolution about eight years ago in support of the program. Residents have been enthusiastic and very supportive ever since. I usually have a waiting list of willing sponsors who would like to enroll in the Rio Grande Basin Bat Habitat Expansion Program.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. Bats are extremely beneficial, which is, I assume, large part of why this program exists. Can you expand on the benefits of bats in a community?

A. Not only do bats consume half of their body weight a night eating insects, they are primary pollinators of some plants. If you like tequila, thank a bat. Bats pollinate the agave from which tequila is derived. Bats are also a good biological indicator for healthy communities. Spraying of insecticides and pesticides is very harmful to bats because the chemicals are stored in a bat’s fat reserves, which could affect how well that bat survives the winter to live another year. The bats that live in NM are insectivorous bats meaning they only eat insects.


Q. We understand that bat season is winding down. What exactly do bats do as the weather gets cooler?

A. There is not a lot known about exactly when and where bats go for winter. We know migrating birds follow the same route each winter and back each summer, but this is not clear for bats. Many species of bats take up winter residence in caves, some in trees and rock crevices. For our bats in Corrales, they could be wintering as close as the Sandia Mountains. They hibernate like many other mammal species, and the weight they have gained in the summer sustains them through the winter. If disturbed during hibernation, bats use more energy and may not have enough reserves to make it through this time. In the end the disturbance could cost the bat its life.


Q. What is the general state of bats in the area? Are they thriving?

A. It is difficult to tell just by the data I have collected from bats using our artificial bat habitat. There would be other ongoing factors to consider, as well more information about bat behavior in our area. I have not compiled the information gathered from this year, but in the past three years, the use of the houses has increased from ~50% to 74% by 2008. The increase could indicate a temperature preference for the artificial habitat or a loss of preferred nature habitat, for example.


Q. We understand there are some pretty major threats to bats in other parts of the world, and that large populations of bats are dying out as a result. Is there a risk that New Mexico bats will be affected?

A. In the past, the pet trade, loss of habitat, and indiscriminate killing of bats have all been threats. However, an even larger threat to cave bats has emerged, especially in the Northeast. Bats are dying from White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS was named such because of the white fungus around the noses of bats found emaciated, flying (not hibernating) and dying during winter months. The fungus was also on their wings and other body parts. It is unclear how the fungus is affecting the bats or whether it is the cause of the deaths or a symptom of some larger ailment. At this time WNS has not been documented in NM.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. As we head toward Halloween, we’re reminded about the way bats are always associated with this holiday. Is that a plus or minus, in your opinion?

A. I think it’s a plus. The Halloween season is an opportune time to educate people about bats and help dispel some the myths in the process.


Q. What time of year will we see the bats active again?

A. They will return sometime in May. They typically follow the hummingbirds, so when you have a hummer you mostly likely will see bats.


Q. Tell us a little bit about the mating and communal habits of bats?

A. Typically bats mate in the fall but delay ovulation and fertilization. The egg does not release from the female’s ovary to unite with the sperm for fertilization until the following spring. Both sexes congregate for hibernation. In the spring most females bear and raise the young together until the young are furred and ready to fly. Females usually bear one offspring.


Q. Can you talk about bats and disease? I think there’s a fear that bats carry disease, such as Rabies, and that bats can be dangerous. Do bats carry many diseases or is this a myth?

A. Bats, like any other mammal can contract rabies from another infected animal. Only ½ of one percent of bats contract rabies. The best protection from being bitten by any wild animal is to not handle the animal and call a professional for help. Always vaccinate your pets as well. Bats are good combatants again West Nile Virus (WNV) as some of their diet is made up of mosquitoes when this prey is available. Bats will not become infected by WNV by eating an infected mosquito but may be if bitten by a mosquito. Bats are considered a dead end host for WNV because the infected bat will not transmit the disease to humans or any other animal. I am a certified bat rehabilitator in NM, by the way, and so I can be called in when bats are found sick and/or hurt.




Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved






Q. Are there similar bat programs in other communities that you know of?

A. To the best of my knowledge, the Rio Grande Basin Bat Project is not only the largest community bat project; according to Bat Conservation International (BCI) we are the only program of our kind. The complied data from each bat year is submitted to BCI and to the USFWS Partners Program. Corrales should be very proud, this is a great honor and a testament to village motto for being animal friendly.


Q. Any resources you’d like to highlight for anyone interested in more information on bats?

A. Yes, please visit my website for more information about bats, bat houses, and our mission. We also offer several gifts that are sure to please the bat lover in your life!

In addition, I work with and am Secretary for Bat World Sanctuary, located in Mineral Wells, Texas. They are largest bat sanctuary, as well as a teaching facility for rehabilitators of insectivorous bats. They care for hundreds of insectivorous and fruit bats rescued each year from inhumane conditions or sometimes from the pet trade.


Q. What is your favorite bat fact or bat story that you can share with our readers?

A. I can’t pick a favorite because everything about bats is remarkable to me. After you get to know a bat, you’ll see that they, too, have their own personalities and are very kind creatures.


Q. Anything else you’d like to share about bats?

A. This is only a tidbit of bat information. I encourage everyone to learn more, not only bats, but all of the other wonderful animals that share your community, state, and planet. Each one is incredible in its own way, worth appreciating and certainly worth protecting. If everyone would play a small part, even in their own community, our planet would certainly be a better place.





Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved   Bat photo provided by Michelle McCaulley, Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, all rights reserved







Michelle McCaulley runs the Rio Grande Basin Bat Project, which was created by her late father, Jim McCaulley. Michelle planted the idea for the project when, as she recounts on her website, In 1999, I built my parents a nursery style bat house. They installed the house beside the 1/4 acre pond on their property. Their house was occupied the very first spring with over 150 insect munching bats. The house is a successful nursery. The prosperity of this house sparked an unusual idea.

So in January of 2001, my father Jim McCaulley, drafted a preliminary plan for a pilot project to build about 30 bat houses to be installed within the Village of Corrales. The goal was to provide an natural alternative to insect control rather than spraying insecticides, while also providing additional habitat. The plan was reviewed, approved and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) under the auspices of the Partners for Wildlife program.

Michelle continues the program today, a bat evangelist spreading the truth about the benefits of bats and other wildlife. Thank you, Michelle, for your dedication, energy, and passion to and for these wonderful creatures. We love them!

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balloon fiesta at home (three), the motto of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is “Mass Happiness” and that’s what we’re feeling on this last weekend of the event, October 10, photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




    


    


   


     


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Apples for Sale, getting ready to set up a roadside stand in the
Rio Grande Valley, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.









autumn’s abundance
sits on a roadside waiting
like good pie filling












The trees turn



and African daisies fade to shades of

.




We harvest the trees

We pluck and pick and take from the bounty.

And still there is one here

another there

too many to count.




Apples that are golden, deep red, and

.




Let them eat be pie!






-Related to posts This Time Of Year, Irrigation Day In The Rio Grande Valley and haiku 2 (one-a-day).

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The rr‘s are rolled, a-rrrr-oyo. One of those words that we chronically mispronounce ’round here, like burro. Or burrito. Or the town where I live, which when I say it the way the Spaniards intended it to be said, has depth, like you’re digging down into the roots of the town. Co-rrrrrales.

And my name. My real name, not my pseudonym. Two rr‘s in the middle of a Spanish word are pronounced the same way as one r that is the first letter in a Spanish word.

I’m caught up in Spanish pronunciation these days. Some words come easily, like bosque. That’s another word the Spaniards left us that talks about the nature. And the Sandia Mountains, which are shaped like a sandia, or watermelon. Shaped like a big wedge of a watermelon, cut lengthwise, and at sunset, and sometimes at sunrise, blushing the same color as a watermelon.

I know what an arroyo is because I see them all the time, homes built right up the edge of arroyos, but even the developers aren’t greedy enough to build in the arroyos, although I bet a few have. But many will build right up the edge, which erodes over time, and widens. And then the house’s foundation moves underneath it and cracks.

Problem around here is that so much of the land is river valley, and even the land up on the mesas (another Spanish gift, “tables”) is mostly sand. It shifts and moves, like a snake, with the rains. What we call our monsoons. One year it rained for days straight, some claimed it was the 100-year floods, causing roads and driveways and yards in the sandhills of Corrales and Rio Rancho to wash out. After that, municipal government meetings were filled with faces of people who never showed up to meetings before, demanding that the roads be paved.

I think of cañoncitos and cañadas being a size or two up from arroyos, but that’s just my own odd way of thinking about them. I’m not sure to tell the truth. But in my world of categorizing natural landmarks, arroyos are a size small, cañoncitos a size medium, and cañadas a large. I wonder what the extra-large is.

Mostly I see the words Cañon and Cañada nowadays used in subdivisions. “The Chamisas at Cañoncito.” “The Greens of Las Cañadas.” Not much with the word arroyo, but that’s because it would be like calling something “The Manors at Ditch Way.”

When I was growing up the landmarks used in subdivisions seemed to be related to arbors and glens and farms. Since then, Spanish-sounding names have came into fashion, I guess.

Arroyo really is a sort of gente word. A word of the people. Like burro. A common word. I like how the Spaniards named things so they could remember the landmarks when they returned. Tijeras was an area shaped like scissors. And Socorro, which means “emergency,” was where they almost ran out of water and food and died. Las Cruces, the crosses. Albuquerque was named after a duke, but so many of the names around here originate from how something looked or what they held. Los Ritos—little rivers. Los Alamos—the cottonwoods.

Where we live now, it used to be lots of land and corrals. Farming and horses. Still some of that, although mostly it’s big houses and suburbia.

-related to Writing Topic post: Standing Your Ground — Arroyo, Gulch, Gully & Wash

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By Linda Weissinger Lupowitz



Our Preserve, a sign in the Corrales Bosque Preserve, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reserved

Our Preserve, a sign in the Corrales Bosque Preserve, which is part of the Rio Grande Bosque, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.




The Rio Grande supports a ribbon of green oasis along its length, from its beginnings in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, to its junction with the Gulf of Mexico. In New Mexico much of this oasis is a native bosque (Spanish for woods) of Rio Grande cottonwood, together with a few other shrubs and trees, alongside a burr-reed and willow marsh. The marshland was once extensive along the river, sustained by the yearly floods which replenished the water table and fertilized the soil. Now this marshland is rare, found only in places where mudflats persist and drainage from diversion channels keeps the soil relatively moist.

~from Jim Swan’s Rio Grande Bosque




Footprints on North Beach, Corrales Bosque Preserve along the Rio Grande, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reservedWinter walking in the Corrales bosque is cool and quiet—I hear only the sound of my shoes on the forest floor, and my own breathing. Wind vibrates faded yellow leaves hanging high above—now and then a leaf twists off, clatters down, bumping through branches to land in the path. The trails are private and winding, at times damp with snow in the shade, or most often deep, soft chalky dust, pocked by paw prints, hoof prints, bicycle tracks.

Horse – Bicycle – Pedestrian – who yields to whom? The triangular sign shows the walker yields to both.

Towering above are the textured trunks of twisted cottonwood trees, adorned with mistletoe, sometimes raucous with hundreds of crows, chanting among rattling old leaves.

On gravel bars along the river, the geese sun themselves, all facing south; a laughing duck, or the shadow of an intruder disturbs the peace. At once, a hundred Canada geese flap up in procession, wheeling into the western sun, their white breasts reflecting gold, dark wings working. Circling over the bosque, formations gather, call and respond—flying shadows ripple across the sunlit canopy.



Geese gather on the Rio Grande, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reserved

Geese gather on the Rio Grande, photo ©
2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.




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Seasons change: a reminder that I have been here, walking and watching, for what seems like a very long time. At about age 40, I found out I could stroll out the back door without anyone hanging on my leg. I walk dogless these days.

Once in a wet year a giant hollow tree fell across the path, roots rudely exposed, grubs and ants and toadstools, stacked like dinner plates. Little kids clambered the slippery trunk: a mossy bridge, a balance beam. Now decades later a part of the architecture of the forest, silvery and smooth, the worn log is carved with hearts and names and charred like an old bone.

New green leaves of foresteria unfold, the orange-blossom scent of Russian olive penetrates. Cotton flies on the air, puffs and piles on the understory like a summer snowfall. We watch for signs of rain, we wish for rain. Glorious yellow Pecos sunflowers, multi-headed black-eyed Susan, preside over summer meadows, as brilliant purple asters endure long after frost has bleached the tall grass.

Here in the shelter of the bosque, the howling wind on the mesa is tamed to a smart breeze, tamarisk petals spray a soft pink glow in early spring, or, in autumn, Hallowe’en-orange flames contrast with black trunks silhouetted against the tangled underbrush. It is an evolving landscape, weeds and waters never the same for long. One flush spring I wade through high runoff to reach the small patch of silky sand, watch the clouds change and shadows slip across the face of Sandia—but now that wash is dry, a thicket of red coyote willow. The beach yields to mud and cockle-burrs, the sand shifts south.



Bending Cottonwoods, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reserved

Bending Cottonwoods, photo © 2009
by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.




Rio Grande: a big nombre, this shallow stream does not seem worthy of, but it’s all we’ve got. Mud-olive brown, rippling with mystery, source in the clean headwaters of the Colorado High Country, way above Taos, up in the meandering creeks and bogs of Creede. All the way down to Mexico, it rolls on by us.

Two Sandhill Cranes, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reservedIn winter, the mirrored surface gleams an ice-blue reflection of the sky. Sandia sparkles with new snow, while I soak up the white-hot light on a bright beach—safe, miles from anyone, minutes from home. “So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, / Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn.” (Wordsworth)

The bosque is home to roadrunners and snakes, lizards, cottontails, turtles and peeping quail. Sandhill cranes, like feathered dinosaurs, walking absurdly on stick legs, clumsy taking off, and stunning in unlikely flight, wings creaking just overhead.

 
Rope swings out over the shallows, promising cool breezes on a hot day, sun and shadow, shadow and sun. Boys whack sticks, dogs chase sticks into the currents, chug smiling with a slimey log, shake on the shore. Step around coyote scat and green horse piles. Sleek bicyclists in their brilliant bodysuits speed by the slow walker.

(The rope-swing cottonwood tree, snapped and graffiti’d, lays on the bank now, with only the fading notes of children’s voices—the home-schoolers and the unschoolers and kids just let out of school for summer—reminding us that this was once a grand tree, to swing up, out and over a grande river.)


Rope swing by the Rio Grande, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reserved

Rope swing by the Rio Grande, photo ©
2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.



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Last winter I was surprised by a locked gate at Romero Road, so I hiked in along the lateral ditch. A huge truck loaded with trees and brush drove by me, while from the north came the whining machine sounds of saws and chippers. What could be going on? I was afraid to ask.

Months later, on a March afternoon, I headed south on foot from the North Beach and was shocked and saddened beyond words at the recent clear-cutting and scraping of all non-native species, dead wood and brush from the bosque, for “fuel load reduction.”

In the dry Southwest, fire danger is a legitimate concern. Sadly, in the name of safety and conservation, an aggressive attack has been sustained against the ecosystem of the undergrowth…so much is gone.

At what price do we protect property, but abandon the beauty and peace of nature that sustains this fragile life?

Where have the animals and birds who lived here gone now? You can drive a semi through the woods; nothing but chipped mulch, stumps, and silence.




Cleared out, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reservedBridled weasel, found in the bosque dead, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reserved

Cleared out (left) and Bridled weasel (right), a section of cleared bosque and recently dead wildlife, photos © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.




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At the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission meeting last year, February 14, the mayor and several Village Council members heard pleas from villagers distressed by the excessive clearing of brush, dead wood, and non-native vegetative species in the preserve.

A temporary stop-work order was given based on public outcry, but has not halted this ongoing effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, despite the severe loss of habitat in what is supposedly a “nature preserve.” It seems the title is negotiable.

The jetty-jacks—those triangulated metal spikes linked by cable, installed in the bosque decades ago to protect the levees from debris in case of flood, are now ecologically unwanted, prevent big trucks from moving around, and it takes a “Little Giant” to remove them—along with all the vegetation that has grown up around them. Flood control has caused disruption in the natural cycles, so they say.

They say this old deciduous cottonwood forest is dying, anyway. That it needs to be flooded and managed, control-burned and levee’d, systematically scraped and rid of noxious trees and wildflowers. New cottonwood trees need to replace the aging generation, but the seedlings are not surviving. Councils clamor about waste-water, septic, sewers and salinization, as the bosque becomes a battleground for groundwater.


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Beware of tree, photo © 2009
by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.




They say that tamarisk and Russian olive are illegally drinking, and ducks have no business roosting in the cattails. That the cottonwood giants, lightning-struck and mistletoe-bedecked, will fall into shattered hollow logs, in my lifetime, if I live to see the day. Maybe my kids, or my grandchildren, will see this happen. Maybe they are right, I admit, I don’t know. I hope not.

This Rio Grande—it’s just a narrow strip of life through the wide desert, source of irrigation for the valley: Without it, there would be no apple orchards, chile fields, cornfields or lush pasture with beautiful horses. From the air, the bosque is a green snake in a sere, windy brown world—we call with irony, upon landing at Albuquerque: Planet Dune.


Clear ditch afternoon, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reserved

Clear ditch afternoon, photo © 2009
by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.




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Via Oreada

Walking out through the south entrance to the Corrales bosque on a Sunday afternoon, I pass by a Mexican family with a KFC picnic, fishing the clear ditch; giggling children chasing a chihuahua; two lovers arm in arm talking softly in Tewa, on a bridge over a culvert of rushing brown water.

A cartoonish Roadrunner cocks his yellow eye and scolds me for getting too close to his perch on the business end of Little Giant, a yellow machine with a toothy maw: what we used to call a “steam shovel.”

I stop to look at the posted signs. “Flora and Fauna of the Bosque Preserve” illustrates an idyllic scene of happy co-existence—Coyote and Beaver, wild Turkey, Muskrat, Toad and Frog, Weasel, Hawk and field Mouse, Skunk and Owl … There is no human in the picture, I recall, except my own reflection in the glass.

The sign says:

Our Preserve is home to a fragile plant and animal community which needs our consideration. Please remember that these living things depend on us to leave their habitat undisturbed and unimpaired for future generations.

This area of thirty acres, Via Oreada, is slated for extensive clearing by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start this spring 2009.



Ready to rumble, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz, all rights reserved

Ready to rumble, photo © 2009 by Linda W. Lupowitz. All rights reserved.






Linda Weissinger Lupowitz lives, works, and writes in Corrales, New Mexico. She has been walking in the bosque since 1982. You can see the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fire Restoration map and plan for the Corrales Bosque Preserve here. And you can read more of Linda’s writing on her blog, C. Little, no less, or on the red Ravine post The Face You Wore Before You Were Born.

[NOTE: A shorter version of this essay will be published in an upcoming issue of the Corrales Comment, a local newspaper for the village of Corrales.]



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