Clay Houses

Driving through the New Mexican landscape made an impression on me. I get the feeling that if I could see it from above, it would look dramatically different than most of America. Not necessarily because of the landscape, but because there’s nothing but landscape. You’d see a few roads, but the roads are empty. Cattle, sheep, a farm here and there, but nothing else.

“Where do the people live?” I can imagine wondering. And from above, it certainly might seem like there are no houses. Because many of the houses, unlike where I come from, are built from the earth.

The Southern Log Cabin

My family was a big fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was little. I remember reading about how they dug their own well, built log cabins and sod houses, and barely survived the winters while huddled around the meager fireplace inside their makeshift huts. I never really thought about how localized those books were, how they just exactly fit my picture of reality.

New Mexico had none of that. If the Wilder family had traversed the southern States, their story would have been drastically different.

People don’t build log cabins here. Sod huts aren’t an option either. And the weather isn’t likely to kill you, even on the coldest of days. So people don’t worry so much about keeping houses tight and secure and warm, because they don’t need to. Clay houses are enough to keep them cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. That’s all they need.

Temperate Zones

do we give them too much credit?

New Mexico is known to be mostly desert. I always thought desert meant lifeless, but I’ve discovered that it actually just means less plants. And as it turns out, in today’s world less plants isn’t a huge deal.

Less plants used to mean no food, but these days less plants means more Walmart profit. Even in places where it’s impossible to grow food, it’s pretty easy to get food these days.

So what is there left to do? Cheap food, cheap houses, and not much need for heating and cooling. People never had to dig in and fight for an existance down here, and as a result the progress has been limited.

At home in Nebraska people very much had to fight for existance. And as a result of their pain, they’ve created a very nice place to live. The pain was justified, and I’m proud to be a Nebraskan.

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