Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year - Day 4 - Butterscotch Valley, Tamerisk Lane

Cotton-ball clouds - January 4, 2011
Photo from my front yard about 1 p.m.


While recalling my family's visit to the big ranch in New Mexico (about which I posted here) I remembered a few other highlights of that trip. 

My father's work on the ranch house and our subsequent family visit came about because of my father's association with the son-in-law (or soon to be son-in-law) of the property holder, "Mr. H."   C.J., the son-in-law, had been/was a widower with one son, Jimmy, who was probably about 16 at the time.  Both C.J. and Jimmy were at the ranch that weekend.  Since Jimmy was familiar with the surroundings, he was assigned (sentenced to) be a guide for three or four city kids.  I say "three or four" because I can't remember if my brother, the youngest at age 7, went with us; most likely, Mama made him stay with her.  Jimmy was to show us the less dangerous parts of the property.  Keep in mind, that out in the desert of New Mexico, "dangerous," at least for city kids, is lurking around every corner and under almost every piece of scrub -- rattlesnakes, coyotes,  venemous bugs, mice and prairie dogs carrying fleas that can cause bubonic plague, etc. (Of course, except for rattlesnakes, I didn't know that at the time.)  Be that as it may, the adults felt it was perfectly safe for us to be wandering around, but only with a knowledgeable and trustworthy escort.

It's an unusual piece of high desert acreage that does not contain several arroyos.  According to Wikipedia (what would we do without it?)  -- "Arroyo, a Spanish word translated as brook, and also called a wash is usually a dry river, creek or stream bed—gulch that temporarily or seasonally fills and flows after sufficient rain. Wadi is a similar term in Africa. In Spain, a rambla has a similar meaning to arroyo."  The ranch that we were visiting had many arroyos, one relatively close to the family house.  Jimmy said it was one of his favorite places to visit, and assured us that we would like it. So, off we went.

It was a relatively short walk to the arroyo, probably a half-mile.  We set off in the cool of the early morning (probably after the steak breakfast) and were soon on the banks of a deep cut in the desert floor. At a place where the side more or less gently sloped, we scooted down into the cut, and found ourselves in another world.

I estimate that the bottom of the arroyo, which was five or six feet in width, was about 5 or 6 feet lower than the surrounding land, based on the fact that I was over 5 feet tall at the time, and the walls of the arroyo were higher than my head.  (There must have been some scary flash floods there at some time.)  The floor of the arroyo was covered with the finest sand I had ever seen, and it was a beautiful, rosy/yellow-brown, almost exactly the color of butterscotch pudding.  My sister was the first to name the place "Butterscotch Valley," because that's just what it looked like.   Ahead of us, in the fine sand we could see the tracks left by hopping, creeping and crawling things --  tiny bug feet; the track of a sidewinder (rattlesnake); footprints of prairie dogs and rabbits.  Of course, we were thrilled and chilled!  Jimmy was probably bored.

A little further along,  the sides of the arroyo were covered by scrubby bushes.  We learned that they were tamarisks or "Saltcedars" (Wikipedia --again-- article here.) We thought they were beautiful.  If I recall correctly, the leaves have a pleasant fragrance.  Sister, again, who always had a fanciful turn of mind, called that area "Tamarisk Lane." 

I don't remember how long we stayed at the bottom of the arroyo,  probably until the sun was almost directly overhead, warming things (and us) up considerably.  I'm quite sure we city folk "wussed-out" and Jimmy led  us back to civilization and the safety of the ranch house.

* * *

Today has been a quiet day.  I made a trip to the post office, did a bit of necessary shopping and a few  chores around the house.  In the afternoon, I treated myself to a shampoo and styling at the beauty shop, which always makes me feel refreshed. 

After supper, Friend "B" and I joined two other rubber stamping buddies for our Christmas gift exchange. Because of our various commitments here and there, we never seem to be able to do this before Christmas Day but, since I am an avid subscriber to the idea of 12 days of Christmas (which won't be over until this coming Thursday, January 6, which is Epiphany) we are well within the Christmas Season for our get together. 

Last of the Summer Wine, a BBC production, will be showing on our local PBS station in a few minutes. Watching that usually ends my day with a smile.  I do so much enjoy that program, and am sad to know that this past year, the 37th continuous year it has been in production, is the last one.  I hope it will be in syndication/reruns for the rest of my life.

That about wraps up day 4 of the New Year. Tomorrow is also a day.


Arkansas Patti said...

I am really enjoying these posts Pat. That is an area that is as alien to me as the moon and I love learning about it. We really have a wonderfully diverse country.
You certainly had a fanciful sister. Love that she named the areas you visited.

Snap said...

Enjoyed the Past and Present posts. You are a busy lady and are setting the new year on fire! :D :D :D

George said...

I found your memories of your visit to New Mexico and the arroyo to be very interesting. That really must have been a fascinating experience to city kids.
I like your sky picture as well. The clouds are beautiful.

Moannie said...

Lovely clouds, Pat. I call them cauliflower clouds as an ignoramus who names things for her own amusement. Cannot be doing with anything creepy or crawly, I'm afraid, but could do with the heat that brings them out of their lairs.

rhymeswithplague said...

I'm loving all of these reminiscences of yours! Keep up the good blogging work!

Tomorrow is not only a day, it is also, to quote a famous fictional Atlanta belle, another day.

I have been waking up each day of late thanking God for letting me live to see another day. I suppose it's because I'm getting close to my allotted threescore years and ten (but my grandfather lived to be almost 96).

Perhaps we shall still be blogging 20 years from now. Who knows?