The Rio Grande is running high and fast thanks to Spring rains. There is still quite a lot of snow in surrounding mountains, so the high water is likely to last well into Summer.
Near Albuquerque the river is seldom much above ankle deep, but this year the water is surging powerfully past the city and overflowing the banks to penetrate the bordering cottonwood forest. Roads and paths beside the river have been transformed into swift flowing streams. In low spots near the new stream banks the rising water gently lifts the leaf litter into an illusion of solid ground.
The high water is bound to be transformative for plant and animal populations along the river. Cottonwood seedlings will have an unusual opportunity to gain a foothold. The Yerba Mansa and the wolf berries will thrive and the mulberry trees will become heavy with fruit as the weather warms. The porcupines will continue feasting on leaves and twigs high in the cottonwoods. What of the small burrowing animals though?
We will be traveling toward the end of the May to Las Cruces. I will be interested in seeing how much of the high water makes it to the south. In recent years, the Rio Grande there has been little more than a string of puddles, with farmers relying increasingly on pumping ground water for irrigation. When we lived there south of Hatch fifteen or twenty years ago Spring floods seemed a regular occurrence. Water-blocked roads were a brief inconvenience, but it was always great to see the flocks of water birds appear suddenly to take advantage of newly replenished wetlands.