Friday, August 02, 2013

high rolls continued

went out to new mexico again, this time to take one more look at this hillside my wife had her eye on, and to tell the truth i liked it too, there were woods there, and a mountain spring, and nearby a tunnel, and a couple of ancient caves, you're talking two thousand years here, what they call archaic and pre-archaic. right at the top of the hill, maybe eight miles straight up, you had the mountain town of cloudcroft, with lots of clouds and plenty of rain and that cool piney smell all the time. we'd just wanted a piece of it before we came home. lubbock is so hot and dry, and durn sunny all year round.

but going out there you go through this cotton area, and some bean-growing, and a place where prisoners are pulling railroad ties out of the ground even on the fourth of july. some foreman is getting triple overtime and sipping his lemonade in the shade, but those prisoners are pulling out railroad ties like there's some kind of hurry. anyway i come up against this enormous truck, and it's got something flammable in it, some ominous sounding thing like sulfur methobenzipropene or something and says danger danger. these guys always go the speed limit and slow way down when they fiynally get to their turnoff which is some dirt road off into the plains around oil country which starts before you even get to new mexico, but gets a little more serious just beyond lovington new mexico. so i've slowed down to the speed limit, my vision a little limited by this truck and its warning sign, and i see off to the side the former town of tokio texas which is now just a ruins, about six buildings with their roofs blown in by the wind and the weather, and nobody ever either rebuilt them, or bothered to remove any of the wood. but lo and behold there's a little trailer down in the lowlands there, beneath the main ruins, toward the highway, and the guy in the trailer is out in his yard with a number of kids, maybe mexican, and he's basically telling them to clean up, as far as i can tell. evidence of bicycles, tree swing, that kind of stuff, apparently there's life there, i'm sure there's free wood too, but you should start with the trees, don't burn that treated stuff they used to put in old post offices. and never burn a railroad tie.

get out to this hillside in high rolls, and yes, sometimes the mountains out there feel like one giant tinderbox. they have beetles infesting the trees, and that's scary, but just the dryness of what, eight straight years, that took its toll too, and lots of stuff has burned down. question is, whether this mountainside, with its spring, and a creek coming down one side, and a road down there, and a tunnel and a cave down yonder, would be safe if the whole region went up in flames. i'm not sure, i couldn't figure it out, i even lost the will to apply myself to the problem. i came home and i'd pored through ancient archaeology books about the pre-historic, pre-maize era archaic residents, and it seems they dragged a lot of grasses and seeds up to these caves from the lowlands, then they'd go out by the mountain spring, and wait for some thirsty deer, and bonk it and that would be their thanksgiving right there. on this land we found some wide shoulder bones of deer or elk, obviously a few had met their end there, and i wondered if the cats come down out of the mountains ever, or if they have bears. i went home without buying the land. the road down to it was maybe eight to ten thousand worth of dumping fresh gravel on an ancient hillside, and even then we'd have a very steep road, impassable in weather, but we'd always have a view of that tunnel, with cars and trucks entering and exiting at all hours. and the problem: noise coming right up the valley.

back in lubbock i've become fascinated with what i call the salmon yucca, a wild yucca plant that has salmon color leaves and these little pods, which i have no idea how to grow. i collect these pods in hopes that eventually something will come of it. its true name is western yucca, or so i thought until i looked up all the kinds of yucca and couldn't find it, ok i thought, how come you're ignoring the salmon yucca. it's fairly common around here, and the salmon color reminds me of spring flowers in illinois and spring fish elsewhere. but i'm just getting started educating myself, so as to grow what i want, as soon as possible.

out on those roads in new mexico you go past fields of preying mantis-oil drills, and white trucks with temporary license plates, full of tools and drilling supplies and going way too fast. then you get way out into the nowhere, and they don't even bother having fences that separate the road from whatever walks out in the desert, probably nothing. as i got up into the foothills there behind the high mountains of cloudcroft, there was road construction where a bunch of local guys were basically rebuilding an enormous road through the lincoln national forest. i say enormous because, though it was only a two lane, they had it torn up for maybe thirty miles and clearly were going to be working in the high mountains for the rest of the summer.

those guys don't ever want that to change, i don't think, and though the fire danger is high out there, they're all on the volunteer fire agaency, all quick with an axe, know how to build a firewall. i however would be an old duffer, relying on them to dig those holes in a pinch before the wildfire swallowed me up. i could do like the ancient dudes, and stick my head in the mountain spring, but even then, i'd be nervous about the cats, and i'd have to string fence up. in the end i thought, that's ok, but i sure love driving out here. coming back i wanted to stop at the bluegrass festival in weed new mexico but it was way up high in the mountains, an isolated town, very pretty, and this bluegrass festival was very traditional, very religious, kind of nice, but my check engine light was on in the van when i got there and i got real nervous, way out in the mountains as i was, and i was afraid to sit and enjoy all that bluegrass and gospel, while my car might be in danger. so i hightailed it back to lubbock, across the pecos, through the oil fields, and now i'm glad to be back home, working full time, and all stalled out on the stuff i write. more later; i have a lot of pix in the phone.


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