It was a soft, early spring morning with the mist still clinging to the mountain and the blackbirds just starting to swoop low over the alfalfa fields when Jo Mondragon - thirty-six with not much to show for it, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble - slammed his battered pick-up to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground his father had once cultivated. Carefully, impulsively (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began - though few knew it at the time (least of all Joe) - the great Milagro beanfield war.
But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it would be a patchwork war, fought more by tactical retreats than battlefield victories. Gradually, ever so fumblingly, the small farmers and sheepmen began to rally to Joes beanfield as the symbol of their lost rights and their lost lands. And downstate in the capital, the Anglo water barons and power brokers huddled in urgent conference, intent on destroying that symbol before it destroyed their multimillion-dollar land-development schemes.
The tale of Milagros rising is widly comic and lovingly tender, a vivid portrayal of a town that, half-stumbling and partly prodded, groped its way toward it own stubborn salvation.