Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reflections from Rafting the Rio

Today I rafter the Rio for the first time in my 2+ years of living right by it. Another woman on the trip, who had also lived in Austin before here, also expressed her surprise that most Burquenos' fear the Bosque, the unique stretch of trees and shrubs that create a home for hundreds of animal species, and the inspiration for all of the paddlers along the river today.

This is not my photo, but it slightly reflects the beauty I witnessed today. 
Today, we didn't fear the Bosque. We shook hands under the towering, spotting cottonwoods. We glided through the banks of our modern river, marveling at the ghosts of the old twists and turns, set straight by decades of miss-management. We marveled at the growth of willow, olive and cottonwoods on what used to be a sand bar. We heard from people who have spent decades of their lives studying bends in our river, planting trees on its banks, and comparing it's current CFS to historical currents. We bumped along 1500 CFS, wondering what it was like to paddle it at 300, dodging sandbars, or at 3000, when the raging rio floods some of the newly planted plains.

We watched New Mexico shed her skies like skin, shining her sweet rays of sun upon us, and then scattering some simple drops down upon us.

We dined on a deliciously contrasted meal of fritos and potato salad-- with silverware that was dumped out of a river rat's dry bag, and Perrier bottled water served in metal bowls by the resort who had set out the clothed tables and golden chairs for us. We watched a show of the Sandia's getting showered with sleet and snow, wondering if it would blow back to us, as we sat in the sun, then the shade, and the sun again. The ever changing New Mexico skies doing their passionate dance above us.
First time on a SUP on a river! 9.5 miles.
On my way home, reveling in my fear-conquering and powered by Enya's Boadecia while driving through the leafing grapevines in humble Corrales, I passed a brightly colored parachute waving in the breeze above a sign that read Garage Sale. Three mustashed men with relatively cheery attitudes overheard I was an educator, and gave me a deal on the bright colored parachute for my students, as well as two cute shirts. The guy who offered me $5 for the parachute hesitated when I realized I only had $3 in cash, and the other one said, "George, just smile and take her money." I promised them good Karma in return and the most friendly one yelled back that that was all he needed.

This is my city, my community, my home. These are my people. The desert dwellers along the Rio Grande are a peculiar people. We see beauty in shades of brown. We prepare for rain and snow on days we only get sunshine, and smile through sleet on days that were forcast to be cloudless. We don't pay much attention to forcasts. I've heard a lot of Burque-bashing lately, but today was a reminder of our resiliance. Burquenos are a beautiful people. We live with intention, singing to the plants we put in the ground. We embrace change around every corner, and expect that one day, any day, it might be time to pick up our things, leave many behind, say goodbye to our wilted plants, and make a new place home. But when we do, we will carry the same love and attention to our new communitities.

I'm writing this from my desk overlooking the Sandia's, which just disappeared in a mist. I'm listening to rain drops hit my metal fan, and looking at the Apache Plume flowers standing upright despite the wind. This desert has a certain magic to it, and the people that live here feel that magic. I love that.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Blessed, I am.

I am blessed to earn a living doing what I love and feeling like I can make a difference in this horrifying world. 

This week I brought a group of middle schoolers on their first backpacking trip. Never mind that most of them had never even packed a backpack before...the trip was full of firsts for me as well. My first time to Pie Town, NM and the Gila, ad well as Silver City and Elephant Butte, and my first time running a backpacking trip for my company (I'm usually the homebody at base camp). 

It's wonderful to watch a group of kids who would otherwise be "watching TV and sleeping" challenge themselves to carry 1/3 of their body weight on a 5 mile journey over a mountain and into a remote canyon. It's equally powerful to watch and encourage them to engage with one another and figure out what their own limits are and how to push through them.
Despite several nights and mornings below freezing, 20 mph winds and a flat tire, we all were reminded of the value of community, companionship, and quiet... and were reminded of the comforts of home that we often take for granted.

 I am blessed that I get to teach these lessons with every trip I take. I get to practice living minimally, and shocking children with concepts of my everyday life like homemade deodorant and not owning a television. And I learn so much from each group. This week I learned that camo hats get easily lost in trees; that sucking on a tea bag doesn't make tea; that you can disprove unwarranted first impressions; and that the sun often shines on the other side of the mountain. 

I also confiirmed, through many conversations, that the world is just about full of people...and many of them need more attention than they can get. And my place in this world is to give attention to those in need, whether children or adults... (but never babies. Ew)