There are some things we take for granted. Often times, the most simple. Or rather, those things that appear so simple. Like flicking a switch to turn on a light. Turning a faucet to have warm water rush out. Walking into the kitchen and opening the fridge and knowing the ice cream will be frozen. We can assume the street will be lit long after most folks are fast asleep. We can assume in front of most every house is a green lawn; in every home a TV; and at the corner of every other intersection a convenient store. Sure seems like it. We accept these simple truths and don’t question how or why.
It appears so simple, yet it’s so complex. Our lives have been simplified by these complex systems. In a way… but I wonder… is this simplicity or blindness? Of course it is impractical for all city and town dwellers to concern themselves with the supplied water and electrical systems. But awareness of these systems might not be a bad idea. With knowledge and understanding, there may follow more care and responsibility.
Living off grid, we know, we care and have to take responsibility. If we do not walk up the mountainside with our shovel after a rain to keep the creek flowing, we will not have water in our pipes. If we do not keep that extra light turned off in the evening of a cloudy day, our power will not make it through the night. If we don’t throw another log on the fire, the house gets cold. Very simple, I know. But we know. We know where our power comes from (if you have an other few minutes, please see the post Power from the Sun). We know where our water comes from. And if we run out of either power or water, we have no one to blame but ourselves, and can call no one for that quick fix. We grab the shovel, and off we go.
From outside our cabin we can look up at our mountain and see the snow banks and know how much water we’ll have this summer. Or watch the snow bank disappear, and wonder if the water will make it to August when our late summer rains should come. We can see the shortage of water beginning, and can take responsibility for our use by reducing our consumption rather than get caught in the shower when the pipes run dry. We consider our water six months in advance. If it’s been a “good” snowy year, we figure our water will be adequate through the summer. If not, we are responsible for our own changes.
We watch the mountain and are constantly reminded from where our water flows. The reminder to conserve water and live responsibly is right in front of us.
The Rio Grande begins here, several miles above our ranch. I wonder for how many this mighty river provides water, directly or through recharge? There isn’t much between us and the mountain that provides the first trickle which grows into the Big River. During the summer, there may be several fishermen and a bunch of four-wheelers. But during the winter, no one, just miles of icy river, still running beneath the snow, cutting its way ever through these white winter mountains which contain it, feed it.
This is where it all begins. A snow bank. How many tourists stop to play here in July as they pass by in their Jeeps bouncing up the road over the top of Stony Pass? Do they realize this is the very snow bank from which the Big River begins? If they all just took a moment to consider.
This is where the river begins. Then look down river and wonder where it all will go…