In the early 1990’s, I lived for about a year in Clifton, CO, (33 Road) not far from Grand Junction. I was staying at the family homestead of a carpenter I’d met in Boulder, Kim Mariner. Heat was extreme in the summer there – I hear the weather reports from Western Colorado on Denver radio, and remember.
We’d shake the house, Kim on drum kit, w/ Bozzio intensity, I on fierce electric guitar, a little clumsy at the time. I was just discovering Bert Jansch’s music, too, from Kim’s record collection (Pentangle), and Patti Smith. Kim’s mother was a connoisseur of Krupa (Gene), a brilliant woman who had lived in DC and didn’t care for fancy foods. From her passion for it, I came more and more to appreciate the depth of the rhythm of the Big Bands of the 40s, and the little combos that turned a corner soon after.
God, I hope she’s still with us – it’s been 15 years, at least. A pressure-cooked pot roast with carrots and herby gravy was a specialty of the house, and would be delicious right now. I spent a lot of time talking with Kim’s mom, and also I gradually landed a feral cat, with bowls of food in the garage, and a studied indifference, Eric acting real casual for weeks, as she was, too. That cat was trying to be vicious for a while, but i could see right through her.
In the summer, it reached maybe 120 for sometimes two weeks straight. I would get up, eat a lot of eggs and “ranch style” beans, toast, sleep for a little while as the heat rose, and then dive into into oil paint or stone carving as the mercury rose yet more.
Late afternoon was a good time to go through the field with a hoe and clear blocked creases, where mud blocked the Colorado River water that the farm could use for a certain number of hours each week, on a schedule. Calf-deep in mud, boots tied on tight.
Water rights, in practice, have to do with how many hours you can open a valve from the river each month, to wet your fields. The pipe is about a foot in diameter. A lot of the rights to the Colorado River’s water have been sold to the cities of Las Vegas and Los Angeles (&environs). The water rights are tied to the land, and water is worth enough these days that a lot of people have taken the payoff, sold the water, and abandoned the land to the wind. “Desertification,” it’s called, around the border of the Sahara. A dry spot dries out the spot next to it. Plants struggle and fail. The planet is heating up, and green areas are slowly retreating. A film of spilled oil on everything makes it hard to breathe. What are we going to do?
I made this oil painting during that time, in the early 90s. I also saw a ghost cow, down by a dry creek that ran deep for a month or so of the year. This was close to 20 years ago.