Water Appreciation Week

The puddle bewildered me. The weather was cloudy, but it hadn’t rained. I returned from a walk to find water in the yard of our apartment building. The direction of flow seemed to come from next door. I alerted my landlord to the puddle and climbed over the chain-link fence to the currently unoccupied neighboring rental property, snagging the seat of my oldest and most disreputable sweatpants in process. I’d wondered why I actually left my apartment dressed like that. I try not to go out looking too awful. Sometimes we just plan right by accident.

Anyway, my trespassing (which was oddly fun, by the way, after the stuck moment) led me to water that trickled through the yard as far as the cement slab of the side deck next door.  Was the source in the house? The water was warm-ish. I called the owner. He came all the way from Las Cruces, thinking his rental house’s water heater had leaked.

Nope. It was fine. He dug around in our yard and found the problem. It was bubbling up from deep underground, from a pipe that runs to the Airstream trailer in the yard, the trailer my former landlady once fantasized living in when she retired. When my current landlord took over the property, he was told all those pipes were no longer connected to the apartments. No longer connected at all. Wrong.

A tree root found a pipe. The tree had water. We whose pipe it was do not.

Despite two days of trying, my landlord and one of my neighbors in our building were unable to make the repair. A professional is coming Tuesday. That will give us a full week of water appreciation.

I marvel at the simplicity of life with running water. How easy it is to wash your hands and your dishes, how uncomplicated it is to brush your teeth. Everything takes longer when you’re juggling jugs. But the jugs make me measure what I use. Even a frugal human uses a lot of water.

Our landlord bought us a week’s worth of soaking and showering at a spa two blocks away. I relish the hot mineral spring soaks along with my showers. Water. It’s sacred and healing as well as necessary and cleansing. The sensation of sinking into a hot tub when you have no water at home is doubly miraculous.

Today it rained twice, a long, quiet rain in the morning and a wild thunderstorm in the evening with intervals of hail. As I write this, the third rainstorm of the day is approaching, thundering gently as it comes. It hasn’t rained for a month, so, like all desert rain, this is welcome. Tomorrow it may even snow, after a spell of sixty-to-seventy degree weather, complete with the winds and pollen of spring. The water washed the air and calmed it down. And nourished the tree that no longer can drink from our pipe.

Vacation Mind

On a sunny, sixty-degree day, the kind that tourists from cold places come here to enjoy, I asked myself, how would I feel, think, and act if I was on vacation?

Truth or Consequences used to be my vacation destination. As a full-time resident, I do the same things I did as a summer visitor. I live in a smaller, simpler space than I did back in Virginia. I soak in hot springs, run in the desert at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, I write, I go to Albuquerque to study yoga, I hang out with friends … It’s the same life, only busier.

I have a schedule. Teaching yoga three days a week is not what anyone could call a full schedule, though it does limit my spontaneity. I’m more involved in the community. I know more people. But the biggest difference is my mindset. I don’t feel the looming return to the academic calendar reminding me to make the most of my freedom. So I don’t.

I let my head get cluttered. After I encountered a number of vacationers hiking the trail where I ran yesterday, I switched to vacation mind, appreciating the moment as if I might have to leave any day. Wow. Isn’t this amazing? It’s so warm. The sky is so bright. The lake is so still and blue. I noticed the light striking one of the bare, rocky hills on the shore making it look golden, though the land in Elephant Butte is basically gray, and how the dried blossoms atop a yucca stalk held their bell shapes months after their blooming ended.

While I stretched at the playground, a spider web glinting in the sun caught my attention, its near-invisible threads turning iridescent. The weaver, a tiny dirt-beige spider with red-striped legs and two rows of dots down its back, clung to a green metal ladder on the play structure.

Yellow stripey things—bees or wasps, I’m not sure which—nuzzled around my ankles and inspected me. I rolled my pants legs tight so the inspections wouldn’t go wrong. Their soft buzzing was the only sound.

Spaciousness. Present moment. Vacation mind