I wasn’t very clear on logistics in my apocalyptic imaginings: How would I keep neighbors out of my gardens, especially since I’d already shared my zucchini and chard?
How would I be able to deny them food for their hungry children? I knew the water was pumped from artesian wells deep beneath the surface of the earth.
This summer they’re letting it burn, 150 acres so far, practically nothing when you consider that 1.1 million acres of the American West are on fire and that 5 million acres have already burned in Alaska and 7.2 million in Canada.
I called my daughter and asked her: “If I have to evacuate, what should I save from the house? The copper urn was my first choice, too, though it struck me as odd.
And where did I think the water to keep the garden growing would come from? “To say that the desert has no water,” writes Craig Childs in one of Fernando’s favorite books, , “is a tantalizing misstatement. But to look over this raven land and know the truth—that there is immeasurable water tucked and hidden and cared for by bowls of rock, by sudden storms, by artwork chiseled hundreds and hundreds of years ago—is by far a greater pleasure and mystery than to think of it as dry and senseless as wadded newspaper.
It is not only drought that makes this a desert; it is all the water that cannot be seen.” I had the idea, back then, that the world would end in fire or water.Now, in the summer of 2015, two years after Fernando’s death, the Catalina Mountains, which rise above the house where we moved twenty years ago, are on fire. The ridge above us glows red, just as it did that first summer, when Fernando told me not to worry because the houses between our place and the ridge were worth more than ours.He said, The firemen won’t let the rich people’s houses burn. That summer, we watched as helicopters dropped an orange fire retardant that contains fertilizers to help the vegetation grow back.If they drop a bomb, I thought, the electricity would disappear and the pumps would stop pumping, and suddenly we’d all be out of water.They warned us in school that Tucson was, after all, a town ringed by missiles, number ten on the list of the top targets of our enemies.I was not religious but I had an apocalyptic imagination.I grew a garden in the backyard because I wanted to be able to feed my family when civilization ended.We had peach trees, their limbs so heavy with fruit that they sometimes broke in the summer storms.Because our backyard had once been part of a dairy farm, the soil was dark and loamy, and when the children dug to China, as children do, they found old glass milk bottles.He was talking about the water at his parents’ house in Mission Manor, a new subdivision on Tucson’s south side where his family moved in 1972.“And sometimes there would be a rainbow lying on the surface of the water.