Thursday, April 26, 2007

Walls and Reality

Alice has been thinking about caterpillars and walls. A neighbor has been out on caterpillar patrol. Finds and squashes at least 100 each day. There is just nothing that eats those western tussock moths and the people have planted too many good things for them to eat like fruit trees and roses. Winter was unusually dry here letting more of them make it to Spring. What to do?
Alice has committed to save her apricot trees and four rose bushes. Two roses are lost, one is limping along. She said those three weren't doing well anyway. They never got enough sun once the sycamore leafed out. Darwinism. Inevitablity. Alice will dig out those roses, go to the local nursey and ask what flowers are not tasty to caterpillars. (That or have the closest main host plants of the caterpillars - a 300+ year old oak and that 60+ year old sycamore removed.)

Here is another "caterpillar" war zone of sorts. A view from the west of Mexicali and Calexico, the two towns on the California/Mexico border in the distance. Yep. Cal[ifornia M]exico and vice versa. That was deliberate by the cities' founders. They knew they would be forever connected. One can see several highways: paved ones, arroyos and dirt roads for the pedestrians, and the rivers for the boaters.
Neither town was there in 1899. In 1900, some American businessmen "bought" permission from Porfirio Diaz, the then ruler of Mexico, to take water from the Colorado River at the international border and divert it north to create new farmland in the USA (a.k.a. "progress", money and Congressional votes). A couple of years later, another American, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, had canals built to create a smallar amount of farmland south of the border, but most of the water still went to the northern side.
In 1905, one of the cheaply made canals burst near today's Alamo Check of the US Border Patrol. All the water of the Colorado River flowed north for two years along an old riverbed. The New River, Alamo River, and the Salton Sea itself were created. That had happened before when the Colorado River every few hundred years would change its river bed.
No longer does any surface water get to the Colorado River delta on the Gulf of California to the south. There used to be farmers and fishing families down there. No longer today.
There is a big legal fight now between Americans who want to line the canals running through sand dunes to prevent water seeapge into the underground aquifers, seepage which is what most Mexican farmers and residents of the city of Mexicali depend on for their water supply. But the fight may be over given a new law passed by the US Congress mooting the lawsuit unless the Mexican authorities take a long and hard look at those old Porfirio Diaz deals and meditate on the very existance of the Salton Sea itself.
Meanwhile, life goes on there. The Salton Sea is drying up and getting ever more polluted and smelly. Americans are building more geothermal electrical plants all over on both sides of the New River. The US Navy sends fighter jets back and forth across the valley at low altitudes for bombing practice runs out of El Centro Naval Air Station. Zoom. Zoooooooooom.
At night, people start walking across the border if they can't go the easy way on a paved road. Some jump aboard trains heading north. Others inflate rafts, put them into the All American Canal and the New River. The rafts tend to bunch up on the north side of the canals or under small bridges. The New River Yacht Club. If not for those US businessmen who created the New River.... there would be no such Yacht Club. Nor the one-way rafting trips on the All-American Canal. Just the geothermal plants and the zooming fighter jets. Creosote bushes and sand dunes. The 110 degree Fahrenheit Summer temps or the below freezing temps in Winter. Natural selection. Economic efficiency.
Just like those caterpillars. A mob of them thanks to all those roses, watered lawns, and fruit trees instead of the natural grasslands and oak trees. Chapparel: bone dry in a normal Summer. Gizzly bears and deer. Racoons. And acorn gathering Indians instead of Silicon Valley.