New Mexico

*April 16th, Peralta
The elm trees are greening up before my eyes,  their black and gray branches blurring now to leafy shafts rising towards the sky.  The cottonwoods, whose twisted branches form elaborate patterns against the deep blue New Mexican sky, have not yet begun to bud.
Imgp3637_2 Barren mountains break the eastern horizon, and far to the west, low humps hint at another range there.  The valley in between is flat and dry, punctuated by sage brush, cottonwoods, and a few homes.  For 15 years I have been coming here to visit my sister.
Last year, she and her partner moved from their rambling, historical adobe house on 5 acres to the house they’ve built only a quarter of a mile away.  Both are in their eighth decade, and the old ranch was becoming a burden.  There were cattle to look after, alfalfa to plant, water, and harvest, horses, dogs, cats to be fed and cared for; the 5700 square foot house, plus a 2 bedroom cottage across from the house to maintain, as well as fences and outbuildings.Imgp3640 
  In winter, the water butts froze, and the ice had to be broken so the cattle and horses could drink.  Hay had to  be pitched for the horses, and the stable yard cleaned.
The new house is only 3700 sq. ft.  It’s all relative, after all.  It has soaring cathedral ceilings, rounded archways, kiva-style fireplaces, and is built in the same flat-roofed, adobe style as the old one, as are all the homes in this new, and small, development.  All the lots are a minimum of 2 acres, and a long stretch of common ground lies between them. 
They have reduced the animal population to 5 cats and 2 dogs.  So far.  This will last until another bedraggled, wounded, hungry stray wanders along.  It will be taken to the vet, and any broken  bones, cuts, diseases will be set, stiched, and cured.  It will be fed and cuddled back to health and  the pet population will start to grow again.  That is their bliss.