March 01, 2011
The woman in the general store looked at me like I was crazy when I explained to her what I wanted on my sandwich.
“No meat? No cheese?” she asked. It seems that the Lone Star State is not known for vegan food. But the sandwich she made for me, slices of ripe avocado with cucumber and lettuce on a fresh roll, tasted delicious.
We told her about the hike we’d taken that morning in the national park, and she assured us that we needed to drive west. “It’s the second most scenic drive in the country,” she said.
“What’s the first?” my husband asked. I could tell he was trying to test her.
“Route 1 in California,” she said without hesitation.
My husband turned to me. “She's right.”
“I guess we better take the drive then,” I said. The woman smiled in approval.
We took the drive in the late afternoon, when the sun was glinting off the shallow river that forms the border between the countries. The narrow road went up steep hills, taking us high up above the river, and then down into the valley along the river.
This river has been on every map of North America I’ve ever seen — including the huge one that hung on the wall of my first grade classroom — and I always pictured something way bigger. I mean, the name of it even means “big river” so you can see how I might imagine a big river. But in several places, I could have walked across the river easily without even getting my shoulders wet.
Apparently, the river has indeed gotten smaller since I was in first grade, since so much water is diverted for irrigation and other human use. Besides, we were driving through the driest landscape I’d ever been in — local folks said that they hadn’t had rain since September — and in that context, even this shallow, slow-moving river seemed important. Any water at all in that desert landscape seemed miraculous.
Posted by jo(e)