- Jay Walden
November 22, 2020
I ended up in the high desert of New Mexico partly by design, partly by fate, and a little bit of luck. If you like hunting and fishing, then this is a good place to be; if you're into the nightlife scene or need your coffee to be a caramel macchiato made by a barista each morning, then you've picked the wrong place—it's an hour round trip to the nearest Starbucks. Yesterday, with Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, I began to reflect on just how fortunate and blessed I am to live where I do. There's a world class trout stream that I can nearly hit with a rock from my front yard, I hunted mule deer a few weeks ago in an area I can see from my living room window, I killed a bull elk and was back home fixing dinner before 5:00 p.m. in my own kitchen last month on the opening day of my hunt, and I could walk to the place where I hunt spring gobblers, if I wasn't so lazy. It's easy for us all to get caught up in the day to day, mundane activities of our normal lives and spend too much time walking around staring at the tops of our shoes or washing dishes—walking around in what the comedian George Carlin referred to as a state of "semi-consciousness," missing the big part. Thankfully, from time to time, some little something happens like the rustle of an autumn wind through the aspen leaves, a beautiful sunset, a full moon rising over the mesa, or a kind act of thoughtfulness from others that makes us stop for a second and pull our head out of our asses, and focus on what's really important in life. Last week I returned to the parking lot at the BOR section to find note under my windshield from some folks I met here years ago, just a couple of lines to say hello and to ask how I was doing, written on a scrap piece of paper, but touching and thoughtful, nonetheless. While I was reading it, two guys in their seventies that I met on the river several years ago, happened to be passing by on their way back from a mule deer hunt in Colorado, saw my car, pulled in and we talked and laughed until dark. Yesterday morning, when I went out to my car in the driveway there was a jar of apple and peach chutney on my hood with a note from someone else that I had met awhile back on the water, and a few days before that, a jar of honey-caramel sauce and an apple on my front porch, left by an entirely different person. Who else has homemade apple and peach chutney and honey-caramel apples delivered to their front door? Mark Zuckerberg? Maybe. Now, if these sorts of things happened just once in a blue moon, that would be one thing. But I'm constantly returning home to find fresh garden tomatoes, squash, zucchini (and occasionally zucchini bread), homemade pickles (both dill and sweet), cookies, cinnamon rolls, enchiladas, tamales, books, magazines (The New Yorker is now $9 an issue), t-shirts, treats and toys for the dog, you name it, and there's a guy that drops off flies that he ties just for me, once or twice a week—usually on Sundays. If I were only blessed with great hunting and fishing here that would probably be enough, instead, I have an embarrassment of riches in the generosity of the great people I have come to meet and now know here, as well as; the wonderful family I have been privileged to work for. Not to mention I have a job that I truly love. I don't deserve it all, I know. I just pray I won't ever take it all for granted and unlike a hog under an acorn tree, never fail to look up occasionally to be reminded where it all comes from.
Well, for the last few weeks the fishing and the weather just kept getting better and better here each day—right up until what I feared might happen—happened. The State Park, and thus the Quality Water Section of the San Juan shut down again due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in the state of New Mexico. Supposedly, this will be in effect for two weeks and be revisited for review on the 29th of this month, but based on how things are going here and elsewhere, I don't think we are going to see any changes to the restrictions anytime soon. In the meantime, if you want a San Juan fix, you'll have to fish the water out of the park boundary, which, for me, is kinda like kissing your sister. So, for now folks, I'm sort of in a holding pattern with these reports for a while, or so it seems. I will tell you that if you could fish it right now, it would be good. The water is clear and low and there's lots of bugs out there, and rising fish. Bittersweet, I know. I'll keep you posted on any changes if they happen, but in the meantime, stay healthy and safe, and don't forget to be thankful for your blessings.