I wish I could share some of my childhood memories with you. I wish you could inhale the same heavy, humid lake air that I did. I wish you could feel the sand between your toes. I wish you could see the water, smooth as glass, in the morning and see the reflection of millions of stars sway during a cool summer night.
When summer vacation would begin, I remember my parents packing the cooler and life jackets before heading to Elephant Butte Reservoir. Even my dog at the time would get excited — she would bark and whine at the sight of the cooler. I remember the anticipation my brother and I shared as we watched the road disappear under us and scanning the horizon for familiar landmarks, letting us know when we got close.
Those days are gone.
What once was New Mexico’s largest reservoir is now at three percent capacity. Thanks to below average snowfall and a drought that’s crippled the Southwest, Elephant Butte is on its last leg. If you walk the receded shoreline now, you’ll find trash from decades ago strewn about.
The same road that brought me immense joy and memories as a child now brings a pang to my heart.