For the past seven years, we have lived on the Rio Chama. It has its origins in south-central Colorado, just above New Mexico in the San Juan Mountains. It flows south where it is impounded by three dams, creating three lakes, Heron, El Vado and Abiquiu. The entire length of the river is 130 miles, 34 of which are below the Abiquiu dam and that’s where we are about 10 miles east of the dam. The flow today (May 20) is about 1190 cubic feet per second, or 8,900 U.S. gallons. That’s a lot of water.
We are privileged to live on a large bend in the river, on approximately 1000 feet of riverbank and I can watch the river flow silently and constantly on its way to join the Rio Grande near the San Juan pueblo, just north of Espanola, about 30 miles north of Santa Fe. The Rio Chama is a major tributary of the Rio Grande. The river is an illustration of consistency, life force, and calm. The only negative I can think of is the demand from FEMA for flood insurance although the dam upstream is able to contain the water and should it break, we’re all going downstream.
The river has been used by people for 10,000 years for a variety of purposes, perhaps one of the more important being irrigation in this high desert country known for its dryness and very low average yearly rainfall. However, it is also used for recreational enjoyment of rafting, kayaking and fishing. For me, it is a source of contentment, constancy and quietness and its scenic beauty is enhanced by a large variety of water birds including many ducks, geese, eagles and cormorants. They use the river as a natural habitat and as a food source whether vegetation or fish. I use the river as a source of natural beauty and a resource that enriches the quality of each day. Sitting on the portal facing north, we embrace the river as it blesses us in its passing.