Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
As mayordomo you become the pump, the heart that moves the vital fluid down the artery to the little plots of land of each of the cells, the parciantes. Water relationships would be simple and linear were they not complicated by all those other ways that human beings are connected with and divided from each other: blood, race, religion, education, politics, money.
Against human constrictions and diversions the mayordomo must pump water seven months of the year. You can even come to envy those who work far away from here in institutions which deal with human beings piecemeal, one category at a time, and have thus managed to subordinate or exclude concerns peripheral to their specialized central purpose or to consign them to some vague world out beyond the parking lot.
A mayordomo has to deal with people whole, often angry, in their own backyards, on their own property, regarding a commonplace substance that can inspire passion like no other, with all connections everywhere firmly in place, including who beat up on who 20 years before in the village schoolyard.
Water. The crew straggles back through the newly pruned apple trees, across the thick brown orchard grass, and climbs up the ditch bank, wiping away the last traces of water from their mouths with sleeves and wrists.
- Stanley Crawford, Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico
Reprinted by permission of University of New Mexico Press, 800/249-7737.