Rio Bravo

My river is going to be a lot healthier this year because we’ve gotten snow. The high country is at normal snow pack and that’s good news for the river, for farmers, for everyone. There’s a dam upstream, so it’s not a completely free river, and it’s diverted hundreds of times into irrigation canals, but it’s still a river, and it has dug for itself, with the help of uplifting tectonic plates, a dramatic canyon outside Taos.

Photo by Daniel Schwen

“My” river is El Rio Grande, Rio Bravo, this lovely legendary thread of blue that wanders from the San Juan Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. One of the perqs, for me, of moving here was that river.

I didn’t know much about river reality but I’ve been learning steadily by walking with my dogs in a river fueled wetlands, The sloughs and backwaters of the Rio Grande have been my wandering place since I moved here.

When the dogs and I take a ramble out to the (now closed) Rio Grande Wildlife Refuge, the river is one of our destinations. Last month it looked like this:

Rio Grande at Rio Grande Wildlife Area, Monte Vista, CO

In other news, I shoveled snow for two hours yesterday and today it looks like I have a similar job ahead of me cleaning my neighbor’s walk. They’re out of town. I am not complaining. I am happy I’m able.

We got upwards of 10 inches in our recent snowstorm, and it was heavy, wet snow, the best for rivers. The dogs and I took a walk in this — to the golf course — where some of the drifts were over my boots and up to Dusty’s chest. Even Bear wasn’t having the best time she’s ever had in the snow.

5 thoughts on “Rio Bravo

  1. Hooray for snowfall and healthy rivers. We got a few inches, and probably an inches worth of much needed moisture. Happy shoveling. I agree, its nice to be able to do the job.

  2. They measured the Sierra Nevada snowpack last week — I think it was about 70% of normal — much better than when Jerry Brown walked out on the meadow with no snow on it! Is your Wildlife Refuge closed because it’s winter, or because of the Fed Shutdown? Wow — somehow I can’t imagine Bear not enjoying the snow!

  3. We have yet to get significant snow. We have, though, gotten a lot of rain and we don’t depend on a snow pack, at least not in this valley. Higher up the snow pack is more important, but down here, whether it comes as rain or snow, it’s the same aquifer.

    The Blackstone had 46 dams on it — and that’s not counting the dams on its many tributaries. They have long wanted to un-dam the river, but the soil forming the dams is pretty toxic from all the mills and factories, so they have left the dams rather than re-pollute the whole river.

    When I read Rio Bravo, I expected a review of the movie!

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