On the Gila

I recommend spending a few days after the end of a semester somewhere out of the way, like at an old farm on the Gila river in New Mexico.

We’ve been at a research facility/retreat house, an old farm that is now held to preserve some of the riparian area along the Gila. For much of this year, Heather’s old thesis advisor has been the scientist in residence there, doing part-time property management and full-time manuscript writing (He wrote two books and started two more; I wonder if they’d like a social scientist in residence?). We went out to take a couple of days off by the river, and ended up going for some nice walks around the farm and one long hike into the Gila Wilderness, spending a lot of quality time with the dogs, and even got some work done: I got a bunch of papers graded, took care of some dissertation-related correspondence and Heather drafted a whole paper with a co-author who was also spending some time at the farm. It’s remarkable how much you can get done in a simple house, with just some tools and a nice pot of coffee.

Also at the farm were coyotes, javelina, dozens of sandhill cranes and ducks, golden and bald eages, ravens, and a large cow carcass—where the eagles and ravens spent a lot of their time. It’s dark out in the country at night: There really are billions and billions of stars out there, and on a clear night without any city light, the sky is stunning. I’ve spent lots of time in the woods, but it’s easy to forget that stars really do twinkle.

To follow: Photos, a conversation with a fire ecologist, a dissertation update, and some thoughts on undergraduate writing.