Down by the River
For most of my life I thought of myself as a water person but I questioned that assessment once I moved to the western states and found so much joy in hiking the arid, open forests. The mountains of southwestern Utah where we lived for a couple years didn’t have much in the way of creeks or rivers, but I have since come to the conclusion that the months we spent traveling in those years must unconsciously satisfied my need to be around water because I didn’t feel like I was missing much.
Then I moved to the desert. Even though I was busy with work I found that I absolutely, unquestionably needed some water – and I definitely needed some trees. It was way too dry and way too hot. Hence I started driving up to the mountains on my days off regardless of the season. Here, in the South Central Mountains of New Mexico I found quite a bit of water: rivers, creeks, seasonal streams, seeps, reservoirs, and even a few small waterfalls. It doesn’t compare to the abundance of water in the eastern half of the country but for me it was, and is, enough.
Abby was never a water dog per se (she didn’t enjoy swimming for example but she did love to wade into water to cool off) I noticed that she too enjoyed the waterside walks quite a bit — likely due to the abundant evidence of wildlife that had come to drink. So while I got my fix listening to the babble of the water, keeping my eyes out for darting fish, looking at unique ice formations, and reveling at the large cottonwoods and ponderosas that often line the watercourses, Abbs had a ball smelling up and down the banks, tracking hoof prints up the canyon sides, and eyeballing the squirrels in the tall trees during these excursions. Because there are at least a dozen places that you can access the rivers and streams without hiking far, we did a lot of water explorations in the first half of last year, taking photos (me), sniffing around (Abbs), and just strolling leisurely. I brought Tom to many of these places and they became some of his favorite places too when he walked Abby.