Monday, March 10, 2014


Weather: Rain Friday.

The ditches started running Thursday.  Ditch leaders are warning, they “are preparing for a dry summer.”  People are told if they plant a garden, they may not get water when they need it this summer.  The association “may have to alternate weeks to water. Row Crops can not make it longer than 7 to 10 days.”

What’s blooming in the area: The winter was so mild, no one pruned his apple trees in January.  This past week, I saw a man with very long-handled clippers racing against time.  Another had a crew removing the tops of his trees.  All that remained Friday were the trunks and main limbs, and lots of brush on the ground.

Beyond the walls and fences: A tumble mustard, about an inch high, was blooming Friday across the road from the Santa Cruz church.  Everywhere, tansy mustard is getting taller and bushier.  Alfilerillo continues to sprout in my drive.  Some cheeses were up by the tumble mustard.

In my yard: So far, nothing has broken ground.  Perhaps established plants have learned to be wary of false springs.

Animal sightings: Chickadee.

Weekly update: The man building the coyote fence down the road has done nothing since the weather turned cold.  The men working on the block walk finished the first coat of stucco.  The footing ditch hasn’t been filled yet.  One stood in it to work.  It made it easy to work the base of the wall.

Neither the fence nor the wall is connected yet to the wire fences on the sides of the property.  A thief or animal can still walk around.

The concern is less with knowledgeable crooks, than with people driving through.  With so many houses in old neighborhoods leased by surviving children or grandchildren, one is never sure where a drug dealer or desperately poor teen may live. 

A wall built for one reason may be redeployed for another. The increased fear of outsiders may be behind raising some with coyote or board fences.  That’s easier than adding height to an existing stone or adobe wall.

One things that’s interesting are the walls that span the fronts of several houses.  At one time, I thought neighbors might have cooperated to hire a wall builder.

One of my neighbors has a son who lives in the next house.  They built a single bark board fence around the sides and front of their land.

I suspect more often, the property has been subdivided after the wall was built.  It’s impossible to know the original homestead configuration.  The original buildings may have been adobe.  The newer double-wides are as likely the homes of the landowners as the block houses.

If that is true, these extended walls may record the amount of irrigated land a man needed to support a family in the 1930s.  Ditches run along the backs or fronts.  Laws of gravity say the water will only flow so far.  Men may have owned land beyond the reach of water, but it probably was used for outbuildings and livestock.  The depth of land didn’t matter, only the width served by a ditch.

For some, a wall may be a silent message that they exist, that they have achieved something marked by their boundary.  For others, it may be a warning against trespassers, more effective than barking dogs.

For me, they are messages from a past that has not passed.

Photographs: Most photographs taken in the past few years in the immediate area.

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