This morning I started
my walk at 5:45, some 15 minutes earlier than usual. I was trying
to beat the heat just a little. Summer is really here in Santa
Fe, with the temperature topping 90 on most days. So even though
the air was cool when I set out, wearing only a T-shirt and
shorts, after just a few minutes of rigorous walking, I was
The budding of spring
flowers gave the air a fresh smell, which invigorated me. Because
we have had an extremely dry year, I was surprised that so many
flowers were blooming. In the long time that I have lived in
Santa Fe, I cannot remember a year as dry as this one. You wouldn't
think that a substance made up of two parts hydrogen and one
part oxygen could cause such a problem.
People who live in
areas that are being flooded wish they could send some of that
water to us, who need it so desperately. We would be more than
happy to take it. But nobody knows how to do that-so while some
places are washing away, we are burning up.
And it's not that
there is an absolute shortage of water-in fact, two-thirds of
the Earth is covered with the stuff. But most of all that water
is in the oceans, and no one yet has figured out how to desalinate
it in an inexpensive way.
We figured out how
to get to the moon. We moved oil hundreds of miles across the
fragile tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. We keep advancing
medicine at an astonishing rate-and yet we cannot come up with
a method to take the NaCl out of H2O in some simple, affordable
Water, like air,
is one of those things that humans can do without for only a
very short period of time. Obviously, taking salt out of water
is a bigger problem than I think it ought to be-but if we ever
solve it, the redistribution of water shouldn't be too hard.
Like many other semi-arid
areas, Santa Fe has had a history of occasional water shortages.
But unlike some cities, Santa Fe somehow never gets around to
curing ours. Our city government lives by the philosophy that,
like the old song says, "Manana, manana, manana is soon enough
for us." Well, c'est la vie. (But that's French, isn't it? Spanish
Yet as much as this
manana philosophy grinds on my mind, maybe it is precisely that
philosophy that has given this wonderful city its charm.
As I walked along,
I tried to look at the bright side of the drought. For starters,
I told myself that lack of water makes for low humidity. But
that ain't gonna get it, I quickly realized, because it also
means dry or dead landscaping, high forest-fire risk, no water
served at restaurants (but really, who needs it when there is
wine?), etc., etc., etc.
As such thoughts
raced through my mind I suddenly came to a decision. I decided
to slow down so that I wouldn't perspire so much and would therefore
require less water in my shower after the walk. The thought
that I had made a slight contribution to conserve water for
our city made me happy. I always like to do my part. Have a