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One Day

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

First the sun rose over Turquoise Mountain, casting cloud shadows on the clouds above.

Soon we could hear machines working across the arroyo, at our greenhouse build site. We brought our coffee along and got there in time to see Bill's crew take the first bites into the greenhouse wall toward the east end, where the geothermal tubes will enter. They started digging the 8+ foot trench for the tubes. It looked more solid and stable than in my recent nightmares.

Chip and I started wrestling the remaining tubes in place -- yesterday we had moved all tubes to the site, and unwound 7. There were 8 more to go. Buddy and Orie jumped in to help, and they bound the tubes at the starting point in five groups of three, to help organize the insertion.

Bill stopped by mid-morning to check in. Digging the ditch was a time-consuming process with the small machine. Bill has bigger machines, but felt that the small excavator would do less damage in the narrow spaces between the trees.

By about noon the trench was long enough that Orie and Buddy started laying the tubes in, and Andrew (who had been moving the piles of dirt out of Randy's way with the front-end loader) started filling in the first part of the trench. The four of them took a well-deserved lunch break (as did we, perhaps less deservedly).

I went to recharge my phone and take care of things at camp. When I got back mid-afternoon the trench was 1/2 done, and Orie and Buddy had untangled all the tubes so they were able to slip into the trench easily and neatly. Chip and I stayed out of their way and turned to prepping for the next step: getting posts set up in preparation for pouring concrete.

I left again to get to the post office before closing where I picked up the last two anchor posts that had been missing from our kit materials. By the time I got back the late afternoon sun lit up the hills. On site the road was nearly filled in over the tubes, and the trench was smaller and at the far west end of the site. Randy was steadily digging away with the excavator toward the west end of the greenhouse, and Andy was zooming back and forth with the front loader filling in the trench.

The end of the cut is delicate, because they will try to leave 2 feet of dirt between where the tubes emerge from the trench and the greenhouse floor 4 feet below. With the day waning it seemed like there was still at least a couple hours of work left, so I figured they would probably be calling it a day soon. I was a little nervous they'd be doing the dicey part in the dark.

Then I could hear the clunking and scraping of metal-on-rock... We'd been really lucky up to that point, but about 5 feet down, Randy hit a big rock that went the full width of the trench (and who knows how far beyond). That was a good time to call it a day! They'll be back tomorrow morning to finish up. All in all, an excellent day, and my most dreaded part of the whole job is almost wrapped up!

...and then the sun set!

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Kimi BrownKawa
Kimi BrownKawa
Dec 15, 2019

...and that comment is so dear, and "so Jan!" Thank you!


Even after many discussions in the past few years, I couldn’t fully picture what you two had set your hearts and minds to do. I am beginning to see, thanks to the stories you are sharing. All of them, and this one in particular, seem both so “Kimi and Chip,” and also so “eco-centered to the Southwest.” You embody a spirit of nature, earth, and sky. You always have. It is a joy to see it be fully realized in this beautiful way. We are learning from you.

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