Canyons comfort recalls peaceful past

By Lynn Moncus: Quay County Sun Coumnist

Aggie finally talked me into driving to the canyons of home so we could enjoy the beauty and solitude as we perched on the rim across from Grandmother’s house. For a short time, we were isolated and insulated from the rest of the world and could think our own thoughts without being interrupted by anything other than the sounds of nature.

For a change, I considered all the work that had gone into the building of that place on the edge of a bluff and wished I had listened a little more carefully when Dad had talked about all that went on during that mammoth project. From what I recall, he said the building of the house and separate kitchen was the easiest part because all they had to do was to stack the adobes carefully and to put the roofs atop the walls. The hardest and most time consuming part was the building of the hundreds of feet of retaining walls from the top of the hill to the spring in order to keep everything from washing to the bottom of the canyon.

Although the road to the corral is only a few hundred yards long, blasting boulders out of the way in order to cut a wide enough swath for an automobile to travel must have taken several months. Trying to smooth that ledge to make it passable required more work than I could contemplate because so much of it had to be done by hand as we had no heavy machinery in those days to help with such heavy work. Picks and shovels were the main tools. Dad said they used a horse and wagon to help with some of that chore because they had to haul dirt from elsewhere to use to fill and smooth the road. A retaining wall had to be built along the edge to hold that dirt and to keep everything from sliding. Breaking and stacking those rocks must have taken weeks and much planning.

Once they managed to get the road into passable condition, they then had to prepare the land on which they would build the garage, house, kitchen, and tank beside the spring. They smoothed what was to become the corral by blasting more boulders to bits and then moved to a lower level to prepare the rest of the land in the same manner. As they worked, they had to build the rock retaining walls in order to hold the dirt that had to be hauled down to create a level area on which to begin the dwellings. One wall had to be put up behind the house to prevent slides from above, and another had to be built below in order to keep the whole area from sliding into the canyon.

Many of those walls were dry walls, meaning the rocks were stacked without benefit of cement, but those behind and in front of the house had to be made stable by setting the rocks in cement. Even after all that effort, some of the walls still washed out occasionally and had to be rebuilt. At one point, part of the front porch tumbled into the canyon during a turbulent rain storm. Many are now history, but some can still be seen in order to remind visitors of the efforts that went into the creation of that home in the canyons.

Of course, when I look across the canyon, I can still see everything as it once was and can relax in those surroundings while recalling the wonderful life we had there. That solitude is the best therapy this woman from Ima can have and is much needed when tension becomes too apparent. Some of us are most fortunate to have such a place to go if only for a short time or even if only in the mind when we need a moment’s escape.