Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A path along the river, overlooking the North Beach -- and what a view of Sandia Mountain... sorrowfully, I wandered south into the recently cleaned up bosque...

Read more about it in Corrales Comment, online
here - 2/25/08 Bosque Clearing Brings Outcry Over Wildlife Habitat Loss by Jeff Radford

Writing practice – 15 min. The Bosque.

The bosque is a cottonwood forest along the Rio Grande in New Mexico and it is my own special place. It is green, and it is brown. It has curving trails that wander through meadows of tall grass, of sunflowers, of tamarisk and olive and foresteria.

Towering over all are the textured trunks and twisted canopy of cottonwood trees, decorated with mistletoe and often raucous with hundreds of crows among clattering old leaves. The paths are private and winding, at times muddy with a frosting of snow or puddled by rain, other times deep dust, pocked by sneaker prints, hoof prints, bicycle tracks.

The bosque is quiet, a place where the howling wind on the mesa is tamed to a strong breeze, where the tamarisk petals spray a soft pink glow, or in the autumn when they turn flame-orange with the black trunks silhouetted against the tangled brush.

The bosque is fragrant, the smell of dusty warm leaves, or the orange-blossom scent of Russian olive in Spring…the sweetness of asters, brilliant purple even after frost has bleached the grass, and dropped the seeds of sunflowers – the multi-headed black-eyed susan who rules the field in glory.

The bosque is a beach, a changing landscape where the weeds and waters are never the same. There were springs I had to wade through hip-high water to reach the little patch of silky sand, where I could watch the clouds change and the shadows shift across the face of Sandia. There were years the little kids would climb on mossy green downed cottonwood trunks: a bridge, a balance beam, now is silvery and smooth, carved with hearts and names and charred like an old bone.

The bosque is roadrunners and jackrabbits, snow geese and Canada geese and laughing ducks…creaking sandhill cranes, feathered dinosaurs, clumsy taking off and stunning in unlikely flight. It is boys whacking sticks, dogs chasing sticks, swimming after sticks, shaking on the shore. Snakes, and turtles and peeping quail. Coyote scat, green horse piles. Rope swings out over the shallows, cool places on a hot day, sun and shadow, shadow and sun.

The bosque is the river…the Rio Grande, a name this muddy stream does not seem worthy of, but it’s all we’ve got. Rolling brown and rippling with mystery, source in the headwaters way above Taos, up in the meandering creeks and bogs of Creede, all the way to Mexico, it rolls on by.

Across the peaceful mirror of the rio rises the Sandias, pink in winter sunset, white with snow, golden in the autumn afternoon, never the same. Walking the path through red willow, cloudscape and sky.

This is my bosque, the thick dark places and the hidden paths to quiet duck-blind lookouts where one might hunker down and wonder, cry, dance, chant, worry for the world.

This scarred, empty chopped-down clear-cut bosque, with the lonely trees neutralized, exposed, brown on brown, fed to a chipper and left in the silence…this is not my bosque. It is someone else’s bosque, only what is left after trucks and scraping blades and teeth and tires have had their say.

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