Summer, Like a Barking Dog, Returns

Bridge over the Colorado River, Yuma, AZ

One of the side effects of summer is letting a week stretch into two and failing to be able to tell the difference. Other fine things I've learned since I last posted: Summer has decided to return to Los Angeles - or at least that portion of Los Angeles east of Fairfax - and it's not been shy about letting us know it's here. K. and I have been hunting for apartments, and there are few better indications of how you'll like a place than being shown a freshly-painted apartment that's been incubating in the heat for the past few days. (As an aside, apartment hunting is still a miserable project. There has to be a better way to set up an interface for landlords and tenants than the currently extant systems.)

But the above photo is one of a set I loaded from my trip to the Imperial Valley with members of the Landscape Fieldworks group a couple of weeks back. There are plans in the work to produce some sort of collaborative account (In spite of Jordan's tip that someone may already have beaten us to the proverbial punch), and my own abstract begins:
What does the water remember? Greek mythology speaks of the River Lethe that ran through the Underworld. Those that drank from its waters forgot their past life. The Old Testament story of Noah is built upon the power of water to erase the past. Christ is baptized by John in the River Jordan and washed clean of his past. Water, in its instability, its constant flow, seems to be both something that is incapable of remembering and that washes us clean of our past.

But at the same time, water carries a kind of history with it. One way to imagine the Salton Sink - what became the Salton Sea - is as a kind of Grand Canyon writ upside down. What the Colorado River has left is a geologic record, a memory in gravel and silt. There are two rivers that flow into the Salton Sea - the Alamo and the New. South of the border, the New River is known as the Rio Nuevo, but what the river carries with it is anything but new. The Sea itself is a record of everything the water has brought: salts, chemicals, human waste.
More to follow this week about water and California - heady news from up north about subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley. For the moment, you can see the rest of my set of photos here.


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