Dangers of Desert Living

We were at the garden store today to get some blue lobelias for one of the boxes on the front porch.

blulobelia

Now at this particular nursery, one enters the building then proceeds to the outdoor area where there are various greenhouses and places to view trees and larger bushes.  This particular morning, we were struck by this sign on the door:

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SAY WHAT!?!?!?!  Of course we queried the woman in the greenhouse who found the lobelias for us.  The land this nursery is on backs up to the Las Cruces Flood Control dam (wait, thought you lived in the desert??  more on this in a minute) and when the weather gets warmer, the rattlesnakes seek coolness and moisture so they have been known to slither into the greenhouses and lie under the benches on which the plants are kept.  The warning is meant to alert parents, especially of younger children who might play under the benches, and dog owners to keep their pets leashed.  I told her I had never seen a rattler on my many bike rides on the dam but that I had seen roadrunners there.  She replied that I was likely going too fast to spot them but that the snakes probably saw me.  And I am well aware that roadrunners can be predators of rattlers so where there is one there is likely the other.

Now about that water: the flood control dam is a structure of mostly earth and rock that runs north-south pretty much parallel to I-25 on the East Mesa of Las Cruces.  It’s primary function is to inhibit large quantities of water run-off from the Organ Mountains from flooding the homes and businesses along the mesa.  Since desert soil does not readily absorb moisture, a hard rain or lots of water running down from the mountains can cause flash flooding and dangerous conditions.  The area around Las Cruces is full of arroyos, natural and man-made, to direct water to catch basins and minimize damage to roads and buildings.

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The dam from below

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Looking at the Organs from the top of the dam

The first image gives some idea of the scale of the dam.  The second picture, taken from the trail on top of the dam, shows the Organs in the distance and gives some idea of the catch basin area behind the dam.

Two of the dangers of life in the desert Southwest: vipers and water.

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