Sunday, February 20, 2005

A little rain

We've had nearly ten inches of rain since January 1st, an amount that comes close to setting a record for all of recorded history. This year is already in the top ten for rainfall records, and there's no sign of it stopping.

Those of you who live where water falls out of the sky with some regularity (as in New Jersey, where I grew up) may be hard-pressed to understand how profoundly wonderful this rain is for us desert rats. In late 2003, the horrific wildfires in San Diego County made it to within a couple of miles of our house. Those fires were fed by the tinder-dry chapparal wood (both the abundant dead brush and the living plants). Those plants were so dry because we've had six years of terrible drought. This rain is soaking the chapparal -- you couldn't set it on fire if you tried!

Of course there were other major contributing factors to those fires, most especially the fact that we humans have been putting all the fires out for 50+ years, and the fuel load had accumulated way beyond anything Mother Nature would have permitted. In all previous history, random wildfires keep the fuel load to a sane level.

The wonderful, wonderful rains have turned our hills emerald green. Lush mosses have erupted on every shaded rock. Grass is growing exuberantly where just a couple of months ago was only reddish, dusty dirt. New growth is already popping on many plants, fooled into sprouting early by the rain and warmer-than-usual weather. And birds we haven't seen since the drought began (such as pine siskins) are back.

So don't believe the news reports that make Southern California look like it just got tsunamied. That picture is just about as accurate as the media's prediction that John Kerry would win. Sure, there are some people that have been hurt or killed by storm-related events -- but not many. The vast majority of us are staring out the window at the gentle rain with nothing but good cheer and thankfulness in our thoughts...

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