Monday, April 07, 2008

A Haiku For My Acequia


In the muddy stream,

Pooh-stick Flotillas glide by:

Splinters of springtime...

Inspired by a walk with my Dixie dog along the acequia today, a glorious, warm, golden spring morning. Water flowing for the first time this year, and pre-schoolers playing on the verges. Back in my youth, there was always a community festival around the cleaning and prepping the ditch for the new year's agriculture. No longer...

2 comments:

Mr. Pelican said...

One of my earliest lessons in humiliation was when I was 13 and my dad signed me up to go clean out the acequia. When I was little I looked forward to the annual ditch clean out with barely contained excitement. It held as much a promise of spring as the first robin, or the little grape hyacynths that grew wild on the back porch. The mayor-domo of the ditch would hire twenty or so local teenagers to shovel out the previous season's silt build up. Every family on the ditch was expected to either provide one man or pay for one. My dad decided that I should provide the labor for our section.
The mayor-domo was a tall red-headed man who owned THE dairy farm, was president of the school board, and was on the parish council. His name was Mr. Roybal. He met me at my dad's property line with his tail of sweating, laughing brazeros. He swept me up and down with an appraising eye; it was plain he didn't think much of what he saw. I was skinny, bespectacled with big horned rim glasses, and by the way, my left arm was in a full cast. Mr. Roybal took me to the end of the line. He showed me how the ditch was supposed to be cleaned. He watched me work for a minute or two and said, " Don't you even know how to use a shovel?!?" I felt my ears turn red and contemplated showing him how well I could use my shovel on his kneecaps, but said nothing. Next he said when I did one section I should run up to the head of the line and start on a new section. In this way the brazeros leap-frogged their way along the length of the acequia. Decades of ditch cleaning have made the banks six feet high, in places, of accumulated sand which when dried has the consistancy of cake flour, but fresh out of the winter mud and leaves is tricky to shovel out, and heavy to pitch. There was much quacking when I was young about how the only work idiots and slackers could get were digging ditches. Well, let me tell you, it was a lot harder than you might suppose. You have to work hard and fast. Try as I might, I couldn't keep up with the snake, and soon I was left far behind. I struggled to
throw the shovelfulls up to the bank, but just as much fell back in, I think. Finally I gave up and sat down. The men kept going, never stopping, never looking back. My dad never suggested I clean out the ditch again, and I didn't volunteer.

Ruth said...

Lovely place, and your dogs were kind enough to show me around there last time in NM. Hope alll are enjoying the spring.