Saturday, February 10, 2007

"Rain! The crops are saved!"

It's weird, being a Californian, hearing the rain and being so grateful. It's been a very dry winter, some parts of the state, like Shasta County, have received almost no rain.

In much of the state, we are dry from approximately April to October, with the occasional mild thunder storm or sprinkle, sometimes not a drop. Then, from December to February or March, it rains. Sometimes that rain doesn't start until January, but it rains a lot. Sometimes we get big floods. When we moved into this house a couple of years ago, it took two moves with lots of dedicated help for which we're very grateful, in two massive rainstorms that made it unsafe to use the ramp into the truck, people were slipping on it. We had a big enough truck to do the whole thing in one trip with room left over, but it was raining too hard to safely fill the truck the first time. My partner and I each got very sick, just with so much work in the rain and the cold. Our defenses crashed.

This is a Mediterranean climate zone, one of relatively little of the type in the world. And part of that is pouring wet winters, and bone dry summers. Winter colors here are the dark browns of old vegetation and the bright greens of new grass. Summer is golden with drying grass, fall's a bit brown as the grass dies down utterly.

But this winter has been dry. Dry means we don't get as much rain and snowpack in the Sierra, so our reservoirs don't fill. It means our vegetation is crackly in the summer and our forest fires are scarier. It means our agriculture suffers and food prices rise. Dry and too warm can mean fruit and nut trees flower too early, then any spring rain or heavy wind knocks flowers off, and our orchard crops suffer horribly.

Now it's raining, and I'm relieved. It's been storming for a couple of days, alternating cloudy/damp with what Grandma called "pissing down rain," not windy stormy wet, but a steady rainfall, the kind illustrated with vertical lines and people holding umbrellas. It's the kind that brought about the denouement of the film "Paint Your Wagon." It's just wet.

I know California will change over the next 50 years, it's part of what's making me want to move gradually northward, bringing my buckeye seeds and my redwood seedlings, and settle on California's northwest coast, or in Oregon. I don't want to see the bay area's climate change to that of Los Angeles, which also has wet winters, but is in bona fide desert. I don't want to watch what happens with California's reservoirs and agriculture and riparian systems.

But for now, it's raining. I feel like I have roots and am slurping it up.

(Oh, and the dorky title? That's from a shampoo commercial in the seventies that's been an earworm for me, when it rains, ever since.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

And so it begins

I've had this blogger account for a long time, and mostly ignored it. My intention was to start a blog about geography, why I love it, what interests me, and how I would teach it and natural history (and the million or so associated subjects) once I have my master's degree.

I'm now back in school, working toward that goal. As I sit in class, a steady stream of ideas has been trickling through my brain. I write them down in the margins of my notebook. "Blog this," and "What about. . . .?" Then I remembered Geographile. Oh yes.

So here I am. I am going to try for four or five posts a week. If I have lazier times and busier times, I'll try to blog with pre-written filler. I will also, almost certainly, photo-blog from flickr (my own photos, and others that interest me), write the occasional geography-related book review, echo posts from Geographile on LiveJournal, and keep an active set of interesting links.

I will try not to babble.