In the Land of Milk and Honey

Yuma, Arizona, is the land of plenty for nearly all the leafy vegetables you enjoy in the winter months. For the people who work the fields, the Colorado River represents not only their livelihood but a deep, spiritual connection as well.

Photo by Amy Martin

In another installment of our American Rivers film series, we are thrilled to introduce our latest release, Milk & Honey (or Leche y Miel in Spanish), and like a number of our more recent films, Milk & Honey is simply a great piece of work. But unlike most of our films, this story takes a different approach to the message we usually tell about a river or a place. In Milk & Honey, we have very few shots of a wild, meandering river, and there are no kayaks or fly fishermen or waterfalls. In fact, in this 14-minute piece, there may be less than 30 seconds of actual footage of the Colorado River. But film makers Justin Clifton and Chris Cresci, along with photographer Amy Martin, craft a sincere and beautiful piece that we are so proud to share with you.

 

What this film does so well, and how it touches the viewer so perfectly, is that it is all about people – and how the people of Yuma, Arizona are so deeply connected to the Colorado River and the work that they and the Colorado River do together. In nearly every aspect of their lives, the people of Yuma are inherently tied to the health and sustainability of the river, and as we learn in Milk & Honey, the rest of us across the country are as well.

The film arcs across a typical Arizona day – we rise early in the morning with a pre-dawn wake-up call and drive to work as the sun warms the sky. We see a farmer preparing his tractor, and starting his day in the field, and we hear how appreciative he is to be in this place. In this time. Literally in the land of Leche y Miel. We then explore a Latino church, and get a peek into a sermon focused on the Colorado River, – the Pastor imploring his congregation to take responsibility and care for the river that takes care of them.

Louis Gradias reflects on life and legacy of the Colorado River from his home in Gadsden, Arizona. | Amy Martin
Louis Gradias reflects on life and legacy of the Colorado River from his home in Gadsden, Arizona. | Amy Martin

Next, we head to the home of a life-long historian, who has recreated scenes from the town he grew up in, Gadsden, Arizona, in his back yard (including an escaping lady of the night). He reflects on his grandmother riding on paddlewheel ships all the way up the Colorado Delta, but now to cross the river, one only needs a tall pair of boots. We then end the day back with the farmer and his family, having dinner together as the sun slides behind the western horizon once again. Finally, on the Sabbath, we watch one of the most important rituals, a baptism, cleansing these people in the waters of the Colorado River.

Milk & Honey may not be your typical “river” film, but that is kind of the point. We are all tied to these rivers, whether you play on them or not. Our nations rivers provide clean water, provide thrilling recreation, provide beauty and solitude and spirituality, and as this film illustrates so well, they provide our food. The Colorado River is the hardest working river in the west, and I sincerely hope you enjoy this reflection on the river that does so much for all of us, wherever you may be.

Working well into the night, the people of the Colorado River grow food for a nation. | Amy Martin
Working well into the night, the people of the Colorado River grow food for a nation. | Amy Martin

One response to “In the Land of Milk and Honey

  1. This film is gorgeous and soulful. It is a great reminder of how the river is vital to so many individuals and communities. It’s one facet of the river’s vast gifts that range from wild to constructed and in between. Thank you for sharing this important perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *