Last Sunday I was able to photograph what may be our property’s last time for the release of water from the acequia system this season. I live in Talpa on a property with an orchard planted in the ’30s that depends on water for it’s continued vitality. I must say I dove into the opportunity with gusto, finding the juxtaposition of surface water, grasses and the orchard’s fallen fruit compelling.
In this photo you can see the downward streaming ditch has been diverted to the left into an offshoot. Most of my artistic photos were taken downstream of this particular diversion of the flow. There is something about flowing water that fascinated us in early childhood on some joyful elemental level. When we are around it we revert and become irrationally joyful. This happened to me last Sunday while I used my camera as an excuse to hang around and explore and observe in a most un-adult, un-purposeful way.
While I’m sharing these photos I’ll talk a bit about the history behind today’s very essential pathways of water from the mountains to the fields and orchards and gardens of the Taos region. I’ve heard that when the first Spanish “invaders” arrived in the region there was already a system of irrigation in place created by the Pueblo peoples who had been living sustainably in the region for some time. As it turns out, the Spanish had learned the so-named “acequia” system in Spain from their own invaders, the Arabs, during their occupation of the Iberian peninsula. Thus the word, “acequia,” comes through Arabic into Spanish (water conduit).
Here’s Eric, the water master, hired to move the acequia water all around the property. He was carrying his lunch and a chain saw. His dog is 7 months old and a topic of conversation, which we will skip, other than to say he’s the best and smartest dog in the world, and improving by the day. What Eric really likes to talk about is water. I wish I had recorded some of the information he’s shared with me about the importance and the history of acequia water. He loves this area and understands well how fortunately situated Taos is, and how that relates to the long history of people living here with respect for the natural, elemental features and forces of the place. Without consciously knowing it, these were the very things that drew me to Taos, a longing for a place with this kind of history and promise for a sustainable future.
Before I close I want to share with you some interesting links I’ve discovered while researching for this blog. A group called Nuestra Cosecha (Our Harvest) is “seeking to increase the production of locally grown food that is spiritually and culturally meaningful to our communities, ” food that is “fair, local, green and affordable for our families.” This group’s page is parented by the NM Acequia Association’s site, Las Acequias, an interesting site in its own right.
And here’s a link to my Picasa album with more acequia water photos.