Mud Crossing

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First The 267,000 square miles east of Los Fresnos, Chihuahua, stretching 770 miles, both east to west and north to south, lies an area known in modern times as Texas, tejas, the Hasini Indian’s word for friendly. Its neighbor to the northwest, New Mexico, can throw another 121,600 square miles into the mix, an area on its own that is larger than New England, with the state of New York thrown in as well. Humans are not native to this land of the southwest. Every race that came here arrived as visitors, invaders, wanderers, crossing a narrow land bridge from Asia. They were hunters – hunting the sun – the sun that grows grass and browse – that feeds game. The hunter’s favorite place was Llano Estacando. There, the great ancient elephants thrived. Life was a hard, dangerous venture for these first, near-subhuman beings, killing the elephants, mastodons, ground sloths, huge beasts similar to buffalo, but outweighing them by a factor of four – all killed for food with spears tipped with stone, flint perhaps. Over an unknown time, the animals vanished, as did those that pursued them with their crude spears. They were courageous beyond our limited comprehension of the full meaning of the word. Then, perhaps on the same narrow spit of land that joined Asia to this new land, others came. Mongoloid skinned, to be called Indians when the fair-skinned Europeans came a few millenniums later. The Indians did not know themselves as Indians – they were the People. The People shared at least one trait with their ‘smarter’ Europeans that invaded much later – they knew how to make war. War for sport or pleasure, but usually to defend their hunting grounds and their women. There was a place and station for all the People – all exce... ... middle of paper ... .... We bounced along, the caliche road switch-backing down to the river plain, the mighty Rio Grande showing barely a trickle. I explained to the girls that the river dries up in drought years as cities, towns, and farms suck up all the water as it flows south through New Mexico, and between Texas, and Chihuahua. When the Rio Conchos comes out of Mexico at Presidio and flows into the Rio Grande flood plain, it presents a much more favorable presentation as a river. Bona wanted to take a picture of the river she’d heard about all of her life. We piled out, got a Coors Lite, and stretched our legs. Alice and Sweetie sped by, not slowing or bothering about the dust they shared with us. The dust bowled toward us as we jumped back in the Acura. “Sonofabitch bastard,” Bona yelled, pointing her public finger at the back of the disappearing Pathfinder. “Goddamn shithook.”

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