Wednesday, May 08, 2019

it's kind of the last bite of winter, here it is may eighth, and it's kind of raining and snowing and hailing all at the same time. since may in southern new mexico is usually very dry, stark dry, this is unusual and makes it a wet year. but since we are high in the mountains as well, we shouldn't be too surprised about the cold. we aren't out of the woods yet, so to speak.

the other day a truck came tearing down the mountain, and caught on fire on his way into high rolls and the tunnel where the ancient caves are. these ancient caves, there's one on each side of the road, because generally there's a sunny side and a shady side, so the ancient people just played one off the other. at that tunnel is the combining of all the eco-systems, the high mountains with their deer and elk, the river coming out of the mountain with its green grasses, and the lowland desert with its rabbits and yucca-type greenery that actually sustains you in really dry times. it's those cacti that hold the water, and knowing about them gives you all kinds of things, like the healing power of aloe for example.

but anyway this truck was on fire, and he was heading into the tunnel, where there's a slight curve, and as i understand it, he was a little over-length, meaning trucks that long aren't even supposed to be on such a curvy narrow road, but there he was, and he was on fire because he was carrying propane and maybe he bumped the propane on one of the curves. supposedly he had tar, not oil, and it was solid, but the whole thing, truck, oil, whatever, ended up going right over the cliff at the tunnel there, after he'd gone through. he might have hit the tunnel on his way through it. he jumped out of the truck, and was killed. a kid at school said her aunt was there and said it was a slow painful death. she'd called 911 and they closed the highway for a few hours.

meanwhile i was coming back from school and heard the tunnel was closed, so took the long way around through labracita canyon, a very new-mexico-ish, dry but yet green, canyon, wild, with curvy narrow roads and actually this road crosses the creek twice, but the second time it was bone dry and i was just crossing a very dry canyon. i actually like that drive, labracita canyon, but took it more because i suspected the tunnel would be closed or delayed. see the problem with the tunnel is, you can get ten miles up the road toward the tunnel, before you figure out that you have to go back, and there's only one way through.

ten years today, a tornado passed through southern illinois, tore down hundreds of trees, broke houses, caused a lot of damage, power was out for ten days. it was a straight-line tornado, a derecho, they call it, and it was about 130 miles per hour or so, and fortunately, we'd put in this fiberglass shelter in the back yard, and my wife and son holed up in that shelter and survived the tornado. i and the other son were on campus, a couple miles away, my son in the basement of a brick childcare building, and me in a mammoth concrete fortress english building. a japanese couple had come for our friend and student's graduation; it was perhaps their first time in the usa. i saw them over on campus, wide-eyed, as huge trees had fallen and were lying about all over campus, for people to step over. the university had maybe twelve graduations that week, but almost all of them were postponed, canceled or at least severely disrupted. the derecho actually happened during at least one of them.

so everyone's talking about this truck driver, and how he jumped out of his burning truck, and how maybe he jumped when he was in the tunnel, or hit the tunnel, or whatever. there's no way we can know what he was thinking. it seemed a miracle to me that they could pull the truck out of the canyon, oil and all, or tar, or whatever, and not have a massive cleanup, although maybe they have that and i just can't see it as i whiz by, which i did twice, once going to work, and once coming back, today. it was the usual, hot, sunny, bright, whole valley on both sides of the road.

but now it's snowing, raining, wet out there, and maybe that will change things. it's an unusual year, an el nino year. iowa is flooding again, and it's about to hit saint louis, if not, missouri, arkansas, louisiana, all of them. a high river is a high river. batten up the hatches.


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