Pre-Spring on the Upper Rio Grande

The river is slow and blue, the edges encrusted with ice. Along the banks (because the river is low and shallow) the cranes wade, fish and gossip. The colors of the valley along the river are sweet pastels with the bright splash of the bush-willow’s red stems.

This season is — to me — better than REAL spring, nature’s manic rush to make up for lost time. “Good god! Summer’s coming and, damn! HURRY! Summer doesn’t last long and we have to get ready! Dump some snow! Quick! A TON of it, yeah all at once if that’s what you have to do. We gotta’ get at least 3 inches of moisture into that ground or, what do you mean ‘or what?’ There’s no ‘or what’ — not that you want to know about. Get that snow down NOW! And wind! We need wind! Yeah, I know the farmers are ploughing, but  those tumbleweeds have to get GOING. Where? Wherever. No more questions! Get out there and WORK!

At least that’s how I hope it works this strange, warm, dry winter.

cranes 4

21 thoughts on “Pre-Spring on the Upper Rio Grande

  1. It’s -4 here with more snow forecast for today and tomorrow. Glad we have a wood stove. It warms your bones. Where do the flood waters end up? What tourists? Isn’t it too cold as yet?

    • More than 20,000 cranes stop here on their way from their winter home in New Mexico to Yellowstone where they spend the summer. They spend a month or so here, dancing, eating, mating and then they head north. My town has a festival and people come from all over the world to see the cranes. It’s one of two things that happen in a year that bring money to this little semi-ghost town where I live.

      The flood is more like irrigating a field and no, it’s cold at night, warm in the day and the sun shines almost every day. The farmers around the refuge also leave grain in their fields for the cranes so it’s a feast for the cranes as well as the tourists. The waters are there most of the year and are useful for other water birds. It’s a wetlands area where they are protected.

      Woodstoves are wonderful — I heated my CA house with one for 11 years. I lived in the mountains and it got pretty cold in winter and there was no other heat in my completely uninsulated “cabin” turned house.

      • Brrr cabin turned house. My daughter and son-in-law have always relied on wood heat. It cuts the electric bill in half. I pay 500 and this month 700 for electric and that’s with minimal heat on as I prefer to sleep more cold than warm. We have a few cranes here but mostly blue heron, of course eagles, 100’s and a variety of other birds. It’s lovely that you have a festival for them. Awesome indeed. Thanks for explaining. I love hearing what attracts ppl to certain areas.

        • Wood in CA was $450 a cord and I burned 2 to 3 cords a winter. Propane was $400 a tank, two a year. It was awful. I don’t even want to think about what electricity cost. I was glad to leave. Out here a cord is $100, if that. But I have a furnace now, an old floor furnace, and I LOVE it. My heating and electricity here is $80/month. 🙂

  2. It sounds like a beautiful season — but I’m not sure I like the idea of herding the cranes by flooding the fields! That’s a gorgeous photo of the cranes!

  3. We haven’t had the usual snow, but we have had a moderately decent amount of rain. But I’m sure it’s going to be a drought year. Without a healthy melting of snow, the rivers don’t fill up and our wells get rather empty. I hate the droughts. They have been pretty much continuous for about 10 years now.

    • Well don’t worry about it. It’s not like there’s global warming, climate change or anything 😦 As things are here right now, the farmers are fucked.

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