The Alameda Drain
I recently moved to a house in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that is located near what is known as the Alameda Drain. The drain is part of a system of ditches and acequias developed by the native inhabitants to irrigate crops. When Spanish settlers arrived in the 1600 and 1700s, they recognized the utility of the system and continued to use and develop it.
Now, more than 400 years after the system was created, I continue to enjoy the fruits of the labor of others as I take my dog on twice daily walks on a path that runs along this ditch.
My dog and I have now walked this path twice a day for almost a year, so a number of things along our way now look familiar. There is vegetation that changes with the seasons and birds that both fly over and splash around in the drain, but there are also landmarks that are seemingly immutable, as well as things to which our eyes have grown accustomed and are now just part of the landscape.
On a stretch of the trail just west of San Isidro Street the path makes a definitive — yet not sharp — turn that runs into Matthew Avenue, and it was there, when my family and I were on this stretch, that we encountered something we hadn’t seen before — not in a park, not in a grocery store parking lot, and certainly not along the Alameda Drain.
What we found
Clooney and I had walked right past it, but something had caught my husband’s eye, and he reached down to investigate.
What he found was the above pictured rock. He showed it to me, and we looked at it, remarking on how it reminded us of the original Pet Rock craze, but this was not some errant Pet Rock from the mid-seventies that had found it’s way to the Alameda Drain. No, this was a more modern rock with this message written on the back:
I had just finished documenting this rock when we stumbled onto a second one:
Be purple, not blue
When I was eight, purple was my favorite color. I still love purple, but not with the same intensity of my third-grade self; however, for a moment, this rock reminded me of how it feels to be eight-years old when a favorite color can form the bedrock of your identity.
The third and fourth rocks
We were nearing the end of the trail and were just steps away from where we would turn around to walk home, and it was just then that I noticed another rock strategically placed on a cement stanchion:
Something about it struck me as more sophisticated.
It could have been the smaller, slightly more even writing, the artful placement of the gems, or the fact that it had the apperance of being in an outdoor art gallery installed on the top of a cement pedestal created for the express purpose of displaying rock art.
It also could have been a rock completed by the same artist, but later in the series after the artist had gained more control of the medium.
I don’t really know anything about the provenance of any of the rocks, but while my dog Clooney loves to go for romps in stickers, he is not nearly as enthusiastic about art rocks. So we turned around and headed home, and it was just after we had begun our return that I came across the evening’s fourth and final rock:
When I got home, I looked up #TheKindessRocksProject and discovered that it really is a thing and that the point is to take the opportunity (through colorfully painted rocks with uplifting messages) to help change someone’s perspective when a change of perspective is what they need.
For me, it was a reminder that even when you do the same thing day in and day out you don’t really know what you will find, and that while the adventure you seek isn’t always the adventure you get, it’s still an adventure.