Water Tank Picture of the Week

Water Tank - The Richardsons added a water tank on their to ensure there was water during dry periods.
Water Tank – The Richardsons added a water tank on their property to ensure there was water during dry periods.

 It’s a miracle! We changed seasons on Tuesday, and Thursday night, we had our first summer rain. Getting rain during summer isn’t unusual, but getting it so soon was. It was nice to break our six-month dry spell finally. It wasn’t a deluge but enough to tamp down the dust.

Our storm cell came through at 1:00 am, and I listened to the thunder approaching in bed. The weather service says that you can tell how far away the strikes are by counting the time between the flash and the thunderclap. “If you count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder, and then divide by 5, you’ll get the distance in miles to the lightning: 5 seconds = 1 mile, 15 seconds = 3 miles, 0 seconds = very close.” As I lay in bed, I counted one, two, three …, then there were a couple of strikes where I didn’t get to finish the one. That’s when I got up.

When I did, Queen Anne was already outside—in the dark—dressed in a T-shirt and flip-flops moving flower pots around so the rain could water them. I scolded and reminded her about the 3 S’s (snakes, spiders, and scorpions). She seemed oblivious to the blue-white lightning streaking dozens of miles across the black sky above her head. At first, I was concerned that the strikes would start another wildfire because they struck close around us. When the rain started falling, it eased my mind, and I quickly got bored and went back to bed.

According to forecasters, we’re supposed to have an above-average monsoon this season. That’s good because our drought has lasted nearly 20 years. I’m not optimistic that I’ll see a recovery in my lifetime. Climatologists told us of 100-year droughts in the past, and they conjecture that those dry periods may have caused the Anasazi, Sinagua, and other pueblo tribes to move in search of water.

Water has always been a concern in the desert west. That’s as true today as it was when the Richardsons homesteaded their place in Union Pass. There’s a spring near the pass that supported their cattle and orchard. Can you imagine hauling water up 3000′ from the Colorado River? Even with a spring, they need a healthy water reserve to get through the dry months.
As you can see in this week’s photo that I call Water Tank, they built a good-sized tank on the property for water storage. From this image, I guess the tank dates back to when they made the gas station. The concrete foundation work looks similar to that of the pump island.

I’m sure vandals added the graffiti and bullet holes to the tank’s side after the family moved off the property. They are another example of vandalism that supports my argument that the BLM should set this homestead aside for protection. Otherwise, these ruins won’t be around much longer.

I hope you enjoyed our month at the Richardson Homestead. You can see the larger version of Water Tank on its Web Page by clicking here. Next week we begin a new project in a different location. Hopefully, it will be someplace cool. Please come back then and see what Queen Anne picked for us.

Till Next Time

Brushy Mountain Picture of the Week

 What’s your favorite color? Mine’s blue—I don’t know why, but it’s always been my go-to color. Perhaps my mother once said that it’s the color of my sparkly eyes—but then, what about my red nose? Because I like blue, I’m a commoner. A higher percentage of men and women chose blue as their color favorite. According to some Websites that I looked at, the second most popular color was either red or green. Surprisingly, yellow had the least amount of fans, but as we age, orange works it’s way to the bottom of the list. By the way, Queen Anne’s favorite is green—as in emeralds—but she wouldn’t toss a ruby out of bed for eating cookies.

If I had to pick a Crayola to color in a map of Arizona, I’d look for a color that looked like dirt. There are the reds and vermilions from the Colorado Plateau, the gold granite of the central highlands, the yellow fields of the grasslands, and the browns of the desert ranges. When I got done, the green crayon would still have a sharp point. I don’t associate green with Arizona. That color belongs to Ireland, New Zealand, or maybe Kentucky.

Sure, Arizona has a lot of greenery. Our cactus, our palms, the pines, and the Scottsdale golf courses are green, but not that vibrant hue that people in other states have. When we come across a small patch, we believe we’ve found an oasis.

Brushy Mountain - Brightly colored cottonwood trees are a sign of water nearby.
Brushy Mountain – Brightly colored cottonwood trees are a sign that water is nearby.

That’s what happened when I captured this week’s featured image. As we drove the Ferguson Valley Road, we saw a grove of healthy cottonwood trees growing in an unnamed wash. As I’ve written before, a grove of deciduous trees with Kelly-Green leaves means that there’s water near the surface. Sure enough, when I checked the Topo maps for names, they showed a spring seeping from the ground near Coughran Canyon near Skull Valley.

When I composed this image, I wanted to contrast the shade trees against the dryer chaparral and mountain in the background. It speaks to me as an island of cool in a sea of heat. I called this picture Brushy Mountain, which I’m guessing is the spring’s water source.

You can see a larger version of Brushy Mountain on its Web Page by clicking here. I hope you like it. Be sure to come back next week for another image from Ferguson Valley.

Until next time — jw