Salton Sea update. Sonnet.

reflectingpoolapr2019

I often get asked about the Salton Sea. Whether it is still there. Yes, but a little smaller. I am looking at a mid to dark blue sea as I write this, sitting at my dining room table (the view is better than the wall in front of my desk), which means it’s pretty breezy out there. I love the fact that I can tell the windspeed by the color of the sea, and that sometimes one half of it will be dark and the other light. That when there is no wind, it is the same color as the sky.
This morning I walked down to the shore, such as it is, now perhaps a half mile of what will eventually be salt flats – some of it dry enough to walk on, much of it not, so I can no longer go to the water’s edge without ending up up to my thighs in fish guano.
I took a photo of the ‘reflecting pool’, which when I moved here almost fifteen years ago was full of water up to the far side of that little row of vegetation in the front.

When I returned I wrote this:

Shining Sea

Palm Springs to Yuma – not a hint of breeze,
the silence is so loud you’ll hear your heart
beat in your chest. Your breath will stop and start
as you behold the mirror Salton Sea’s
become on such a day. A piece of sky
stretched on the desert floor – cerulean rug
of knots so fine. And ’til a stop will tug
the air, that blessed earthly canopy,
and then that sea to ever deepening blue
then gray, then black with whitecapse, watch this glass
this polished surface thirty five miles vast
reflects the sky it lives under, to you.
On windless days, the Salton Sea shines most,
more than the oceans found on either coast.

Sonnet Challenge #32

I get inspiration when at art fairs from my neighbors.  At the SouthWest Festival last weekend the booth across from me was selling metal cacti and palm trees. It inspired me to write a sonnet about the real thing.

Cacti

Cacti protect themselves with spiky skin
from critters that would like to eat their flesh,
but on account of that protective mesh
of thorns, cannot get to the juice within.
Cacti may bloom when given sufficient rain.
The pincushion creates a sudden flower,
bright in the sun, until another shower,
with nectar got bees spreading pollen down the chain
of life. Some cacti hide their spikes inside –
the poison pencil’s not the one to chew.
Others make buds that drop and roll and root anew
and spread their kind through desert far and wide.
So if your home’s where little water went
it’s probably best to be a succulent.

Tales from the field #19

Sometimes a little local knowledge can be vital.

Last Wednesday when we were setting up for the South West Art Festival in Indio, my booth neighbor from Utah, had stacked his boxes on the grass in the space between our booths.  This fair is at the Polo Grounds and we have lush grass there.  I’d not met Peter before but that’s no excuse to not be a good neighbor.

I suggested that he put tarps under his boxes, pointing out that the polo field was very well irrigated, plus we had had several days of great rain recently and might get dew.  Yes, I know, dew in the desert seems like an oxymoron but it does happen!  Peter decided to take my advice and while I was unloading and parking the truck piled his boxes into my space and tarped under his boxing area.

Cardboard with tarps under and over

How wet can it possibly get in the desert???

Turned out to be a good call. On the Thursday morning when we were completing set-up, my boots were quite sodden walking around on the grass.  If he had not tarped under them, those boxes would’ve been history.

 

Messing about in boats

I have to say that this was one painting (or pair of paintings) executed under the most hostile of weathers.  No, not so much heat, but the desiccating wind.  I had to stop on the second morning and go back for a short session closer to dawn on the third day, and then it was a struggle.  The good news is that once I’d drawn up the letters, I could quickly go from one side to the other, painting layers, knowing full well that that my start point would be completely dry by the time I returned to it in about 25 minutes.  At the end of the second day I had to quit because the paint was drying on the brush.  The east side of the boat was too hot to work, and the west side, in the shade and wind, I was shivering.  And I still had to figure out how to spray with an acrylic glaze with the UV component – in a stiff breeze.

Nevertheless ‘Poseidon’ has its name on its sides and today will be test launched.  Eventually this boat will carry a solar powered pump which will pump water from the Salton Sea into the marina ‘fingers’ in Desert Shores, to maintain the water level and mitigate red agae.  Launch day is on Sunday.

starboard_finished

port_finished

Calexico 110th birthday art show.

Yesterday evening was the reception for the Calexico 110th birthday celebration at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts center. The art show had 110 pieces of art in there. Fortunately it’s a big hall, and there were some paintings in the lobby of which I didn’t take photos.
The reception was well attended and there was a short speech by the Mayor, followed by a group photo of all the participating artists that were present.  Enjoy the show!

Tales from the Field #7.

Sometimes the trip to or from the show is as eventful as the show itself.  The trip to the Phoenix area I particularly enjoy because there’s a short-cut from Mecca to the I10-eastbound up Box Canyon.  On the outbound trip, which is during the day, the geology is very scenic.  On the inbound trip, which is usually around 10pm, it’s one of those dark-sky zones where you can stop and enjoy stars without the interference of city lights.  The alternative is to go up to the I10 in Indio, but the Box Canyon cut-off is 25 miles shorter.

On the way to Carefree, I got to the top of Box Canyon, where it joins the freeway, only to find the on-ramp was coned off and blocked by several pieces of heavy machinery.  The next on-ramp to the east is at Chiriaco Summit, maybe 4 miles, and to the west, the Indio on-ramp.  Yes, a 50 mile round trip.  Aargh.

Just to complicate matters, I’d been having some slight thermostat problems with the truck.  Although it wasn’t overheating very much, from the last trip, it seemed that if I stopped to let it cool, it got hotter.  The plan had been to try to drive to Blythe to get a replacement thermostat, if necessary, doing the work in the parking lot.  I had not planned on stopping between home and Blythe – a 2 hour leg of the trip.  And it was starting to look like I was going to have to stop at Chiriaco anyway, that second cup of coffee was working overtime, and I didn’t think my bladder would make it another hour to Blythe.

I hopped out of the truck and talked to one of the workers who pointed me in the direction of the foreman.  He said that at the last bend in Box Canyon was a side-road, marked by two cones, which went up to Chiriaco Summit.  Perfect.

detourtochiriaco1

Desert definition of ‘road’.

However, when the foreman used the word ‘road’, he didn’t quite say how ‘roady’ this was.  At first there was a dirt stretch, followed by gravel and more dirt, and eventually panning out into ancient blacktop for a while, then changing between the three options before it joined I10 at Chiriaco Summit.   I had the ‘road’ to myself.  It passed little bridges where washes ran down, and these were inevitably full of trees and bushes.  Ah, if ever there was a road I could leave the truck running at the side of it and run behind a bush!

Road between Box Canyon and Chriaco Summit

Ah, relief is in sight!

No need to stop at Chiriacco!  When I got to Blythe and bought the thermostat, I think the truck realized I was serious about doing this open-hood surgery myself in a parking lot without a mechanic in attendance. I’ve not had a problem with it since.

Collapse of an eco-system and the last superhero.

reflectingpoolchange

I’m not usually an openly political person – this is something of a political posting, but more of an ecological item, not party politics.  If you live anywhere in North or Central America, this could affect you.

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