Acequia Traditions

Posted on May 22, 2019

Spring is a welcome change in northern New Mexico. The winters can be awe inspiring, but are also usually a little tough to get through. As the days lengthen and the soil accepts the icy frost under its skin, birds return to the skies. Buds form on the branches. Just as the mornings become more hospitable, gatherings of trucks form on neighborhood streets. As you pass, you notice a team digging and raking the overgrowth from the sides of the ditches.

The workers form a line that winds its way across the tops of fields and through the brush. It is a welcome and reassuring sight. A signal that the water will flow soon. That fields will be drenched in the ice cold mountain waters. That the songs of birds will greet your idle waking moments.

My father lives in Valdez these days. A sleepy community tucked into a valley at the foot of Taos mountain. It is one of the first stops that the winter snow makes on its way to the Rio Grande. He receives a notice that informs him of the day he must have workers or “Peons” arrive to maintain the ditches. If he can’t provide workers, he needs to come up with payment for the service.

The little painting for today is done with Procreate. It is a bit of software on my iPad that allows me to draw with color and texture. It is pretty pleasant to use. So, though it looks like I worked in pastel or chalk, it is completely digital. These little drawings are just something to do in the morning or late afternoon. They are about simply making. We will see where they go. I may use them to work out ideas, contemplate compositions, or collage disparate images into something that could work for a more considered piece.