Cenizo Journal Winter 2023 - Page 21

again ( remember the drought of these past years ?) had a nice downward path from our driveway to our patio and then a slight slant to the door . Might that not pose a problem ? But we were just days away from our annual migration to the northwest for the summer , so neither of us heeded the little warning rattling in the back of our minds .
Throughout the summer months , we heard about some good summer rains back on the desert . There were video postings online of running arroyos , Terlingua Creek back to being an actual creek , rafting in Big Bend resuming as the river once again streamed through the canyons . We were delighted and relieved , knowing that our water tanks were filling .
Our wonderful and nearest neighbors ( two miles away ) had been checking our house every few weeks for rodents ( see “ Was It Self Defense ?”, Cenizo , Winter 2020 ) and had reported these much-needed rains that were finally happening . It sounded like maybe a bit of rain had made it through our kitchen door , but they had kindly cleaned that up . And they had much to say about how green and beautiful the revived desert now was . We were excited to head home .
And then the torrential rains happened three days before our return . Our neighbors gave us the bad news that this rain had resulted in what we had had an inkling might happen--mud had flowed into our kitchen . They warned us of the mess that would greet us and advised us what supplies to bring for cleanup . We were dreading what awaited us , but eager to get home to deal with it . We couldn ’ t charge home because one mile of our five miles of dirt road is always a problem in the rain--bentonite that turns into slick mud much like potter ’ s clay . So , we had to sit on our dread and wait an extra day for the sun to dry this out before making our way home .
Egads . Mudflats right there in our kitchen . The saltillo tile was hardly even visible through the mud . The good news was that the mud did not flow into the rest of the house ( well , just a little ), so the mopping and soaking up was confined mostly to the kitchen . Charlie tackled this for the first few hours we were home . Division of labor had me doing our usual clean-up — removing dust covers , making the bed , sweeping and vacuuming the usual accumulation of dust balls and sticky spider webs and dead insects in the rest of our fortunately-not-very-large house , and so on . While Charlie kept mopping and wringing and emptying and refilling the bucket .
And then , almost like a bad punchline to a bad joke , to top off our homecoming , heavy rains were predicted for two days later . In preparation , we scrambled to re-direct the water flow . Our neighbor helped Charlie dig a French drain to divert some of the downhill rain possibility and Charlie re-installed the bricks that we had dug up in dismantling the fence so we would have a barrier again . We kept it low this time , so our friends won ’ t have much to step over .
We went to sleep that night , listening for the beautiful sound of rain on our roof , excited for the predicted rains so we ’ d be able to watch our repairs in action . But of course , the desert has its own mind , and all we got was a little drizzle . We know there will be a next time , another big rain , and we ’ ll get to evaluate our repairs then . And as always with rain on the desert , the maxim “ be careful what you wish for ” truly applies .
Right now , with flowers blooming out of season on the cholla , every ocotillo totally leafed out , and prickly pear once again fleshy and happy , it ’ s time to simply celebrate and marvel at how green the desert is . And now that we ’ ve been reminded how the desert behaves when not in drought , perhaps it ’ s also time to fix those engineering flaws . �

Cenizo Winter 202321