Friday, August 26, 2011

Getting Soaked

My neighbor suggested a walk in the evening before dusk along the quieter residential areas of Truth or Consequences, in the historic district known as Hot Springs, before the name changed in 1950. The sky was fleeced with light gray clouds. Lighting flashed.

"We're going to get soaked," she said.

We stopped along the way and talked with a woman working hard at gardening. Gardening takes on a different meaning here. There may be no other place quite like it. The soil is porous desert sand. What grows is a mix of cactus plus anything you can put on it, water and fertilize, that can take sun. It is both sparse and lush at the same time. Below the ground hot water flows and sometimes bubbles to the surface.

Becky—with the sky still light beside the Rio Grande
In addition, in mid to late summer—monsoon season in New Mexico—storms can spring up suddenly, ride down the mountains like avenging banshees, and flood the town in minutes.

An evidence, walk along Broadway and you will see not only pools of standing water but filled sandbags at almost every door—just in case—to keep galloping waters at bay.

Then there is the river. The lazy Rio Grande borders the south side of town, flowing from Elephant Butte lake, adding its own humidity to the air.

As we walk the lightning strikes come more quickly. They ring the town, dancing on the hills like skinny, blue aliens— here for a moment and gone. Mixed with the smell of lightning and rain, the faint scent of wood smoke—perhaps from a distant fire from a lightning strike.

As we walk the rain picks up—droplets at first and then heavier blobs.

Jan—our hostess in the rain
We near a house under renovation. My friend says she knows the owners, Ted and Jan, so we holler, duck in and visit. As we sit on the deck the light in the sky does a gradual disappearing act, becoming deeper an deeper hues of purple/gray, until mountains across the river are no more than dark indigo shapes lit by occasional slashes of  blue/white lightning. The Rain tattoos on the roof. Then it slows, stops.

"Our chance to be going," says my friend Becky

We walk back in darkness.

"I thought we were going to get soaked," I say. I almost sense a smile in the dark.

Back at the house we change to bathing suits and walk to The Riverbend, one of a half a dozen or so resorts that tap the hot water just below ground and pipe it to the surface and into large bathing tubs. For almost 100 years visitors  have been coming here to take these hot mineral baths. Before that the first settlers, the Spanish and the Indians. Taking the waters is called soaking,

That's what we did. Sat in a tub for almost an hour watching the lightning prance in an inkberry sky and hearing the rain dance around us.

We got soaked.



  1. I think that is just what I need for my old bones. What do they charge?

  2. Hey John !

    That sounds like fun ! Getting soaked with a beautiful woman .... lol. Never been to New Mexico as far as I know. Sounds nice though. I love the East with our plush vegetation and forests ! Thanks for sharing !