It was the end of November on that Tuesday when I stepped off the Bus. I watched the last few hours of daylight diminish as they slipped off into a sea of orange and purple, reflected off the Organ Mountains. The moon was already starting to rise in the distance and fill the night. The moon was as big as my Great Grandmother’s cake plate that my mother kept on the top shelf of the china hutch. There was a distinguishable moist snap to the air. You could feel the first real frost was threatening. I righted myself and sucked in my breath as my heavy ruck was tossed to me.
I spent my first night in a homeless shelter. A young man on the bus ride from Roswell was sleeping on the cot next to me. He too had traveled from Colorado, always where the crops took him. He had told me of this way of making a living. It sounded like the life for me. It was far enough away from military school and far enough from my tyrant of a father. It would also be the last place my Father would look for me.
The next day I hitched a ride south out of town. The dust trailed and billowed behind us as the driver sped down the rocky gravel road. We passed orchard after orchard and Stucco house after another. The suns light tickled my face as it jutted in and out of the breaks between the trees. I allowed myself to start to fall asleep. Just then the truck pulled off the road into the largest Pecan orchard that I ever seen. Rows and Rows of pecan trees stretched out for miles and miles. The trees were righted to the sky like soldiers standing in formation. Their branches were bent with the weight of sweet nuts yet to be harvested. Work would be good here. I was excited, but terrified that they would not want a runt of a run away like me. I stood just barley 5’7″ and weighed hardly 140 lbs dripping wet.
As I jumped over the side of the dusty green pickup that had given me a ride, I let out a deep sigh. I nodded to the man who had given me a ride. He just regarded me with suspicion. I dipped my hat to the man’s wife. The truck took off with a start, kicking up dust as it fled. I tasted the dust from the truck, and felt the gravel on my shins, as I thought to myself, that truck might just be saner than I was. I knew I was there for the long haul.
I walked down the narrow gravel road which seemed to stretch on for miles. Twice I had to quickly jump out of the way of the dusty cattle trucks that were loaded with migrant workers greedy for work and ready for the harvest. The sun was starting to set and it was playing tricks on the irrigated trees and mirroring the trees in both directions, Up and down.
There was a spread of buildings sitting in the middle of the orchard. As I looked around all I could see was an expanse of trees. I felt smaller than I have ever felt before.
I met Miguel that first fall when I worked the pecans at Terrill farm. They actually provided housing for their workers free of charge. That was the last good winter I would spend for years to come.
Miguel and I would sit up late at night and share stories as we let the day wear away. Miguel and I grew to be great friends over the next four years. Miguel was the kind of man that you could depend on, he expected great things for his future and he cherished the memories and stories he had from his past.
Miguel was a third generation Migrant farmer. Miguel would tell of his father Luis, who was the first in his family to be born in America. Miguel’s own Grandfather Guillermo was born in Guaymas, Mexico. Miguel would often tell of the Sea, that his grandfather would play by as a child. He had been told that his grandfather would tell his father stories in sing song about the bare mountains that jutted up from the ocean floor and surrounded the city. His Grandfathers words would often lull Miguel to sleep at night, retold by his father every night around the cook stoves in the Colonia’s.
To be continued….