Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Summer storms and me

I've neglected the ongoing chats about my life and the desert southwest lately but I'll see if I cannot do better now. Life is settling back to a routine after the summer's adventure and while I am working on the next chapter of that epic, there is much else to recall, think about and share. So today, the topic is summer storms--with pictures!

I think I have had a love-hate relationship with water all my life. To this day I cannot swim and although I treasure water since I'm a denizen of a very arid land, I also fear it, especially in large amounts and violent motion! As I have said, my memories begin in the old mining town of Jerome, Arizona which perched on rusty-dusty hills above the Verde Valley on the west side. I really do not recall much about storms there but vaguely that it did snow in the winter, that leaking water from the large tanks adjacent to our home froze on the fence at times and that the last summer we lived there, 1953, a summer downpour and resulting flood devastated a good part of the town.

Where we lived on Sunshine Hill, a separate ridge and peal north and east of the main town, we were above all that. It was on the main red hill where old Jerome was built, Cleopatra Mountain, that torrents of water poured down over and into the town. The damage was pretty frightful. Here is one shot Dad took of me looking at the mess. As I recall this was near the main street, a switchback or two above the Post Office and the service station which still exist on the squiggly main street, also Highway 89A, which goes from Flagstaff to Prescott through the Verde.

That and the decline of the town's infrastructure after Phelps Dodge ceased their mining operation there in 1951-52 resulted in our move down to Clarkdale which took place that fall. Not long after that, the first equines joined the family and I gradually assumed more and more of their care and maintenance. We lived in the lower town area and south of that ran an arroyo which drained some of the hills below Jerome and also received water once or twice a week when they drained the town swimming pool up behind the Clark Memorial Clubhouse which then housed the library, meeting rooms, an auditorium etc. So, when you had corrals to clean and animals to feed, rain was both welcome and a dratted nuisance!

I began to pay a lot more attention to the weather, especially the summer rains and the resulting flash floods that came surging down through the canyons. Here is a picture of brother Charlie in the bottom of that arroyo, only a matter of yards from the corrals housing some of our animals. That huge hole had been created where a rough dirt road had crossed this small canyon and exemplifies what rushing water can do.

In the summer of 1964, which was especially wet with some very heavy downpour type rains, a railroad bridge across Bitter Creek Canyon which ran between the main part of Clarkdale and the then-idle PD smelter facility to the north, was washed out twice. The large cement bases for the timber pillars supporting the bridge were washed out or so badly eroded on their foundations that they collapsed. And a major impact on my life was the indirect result for a Santa Fe B&B (Bridge and Building) Crew came to town to repair that bridge and we--brother and I--made the acquaintance of some of its members. But that is another story for another time. Here is another photo of some of the damage--not sure whether the first or second washout, probably the second since the heaped dirt and gravel was probably meant to provide protection for the first repair.

To be continued!!

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