A Walk Between Storms

It’s been raining for days and I’ve been loving every minute of it.  My eyes sorely needed a break from all the bright sunlight.  There are flood warnings and this is usual for the rainy season here in Sonoma County.  Every year the Russian River floods at least a little bit.  Every year people all over Sonoma County act shocked and dismayed about the flooding as though it’s a sign of the end days, as though they didn’t just fix the flood damage in their basement last year.  Few people realize that Sonoma County only gets 10″ less rain a year than Northern Oregon on average.  Before moving north I compared weather demographics that showed yearly rainfall and many years there were only a couple of inches difference.

The reason it feels so different and the reason flooding is more common here than in Yamhill county is that in Yamhill you get rain in smaller increments for many more months of the year.  It’s only dry in Yamhill a maximum of 3 months of the year.  In Sonoma there are many years where it’s dry for 10 months and only rains for two.  It dumps almost the same amount of water in two months that it takes Oregon to dump in 10.  So, pretty much all at once.

The other main difference is that it’s much warmer most of the time here.  While it’s in the 40’s in McMinnville this week it’s in the 50’s and 60’s here.  Mostly the 60’s.

The day before yesterday it rained so hard that the gutter water on either side of the street almost met in the middle of the road.  It tore down like a punishment and then suddenly it stopped, the clouds stretched apart and everything was flooded with sunshine.  I needed to get the dog out for a walk so I got dressed and took my opportunity knowing that it wasn’t going to last.

I walked through the St. Rose Neighborhood on the other side of Santa Rosa Ave from the Cherry Street Historic District Neighborhood (mine).  Everything was shiny and glinting.  When I walk I name plants that I see if I know their names:

Oleander, sweet alyssum, fig, orange, lemon, oxalis, erigeron, lavender, buddleia, Cecile Brunner rose, potato vine, hens and chicks, English walnut, black walnut, limes, monkey flower, rosemary, Swiss chard, salvia, and camellia.

I saw all of those plants on my walk.  While the trees are shedding their dressing down to their bones, so many other plants here are still blooming.  They scented my walk – especially the sweet alyssum.  I have been disconnected from plants and gardening since moving here.  Our yard is actually a decent size but the back is mostly a big stand of bamboo and a giant old oak tree.  So – mostly shade.  The front gets tons of sun but is quite small.  Even so – I have plans.  I just haven’t been able to dig in because of all the other business of settling in and unpacking and a thousand hours with the DMV.  Oh – and because of the punishing HEAT AND CONSTANT BLINDING LIGHT.  My walk was energizing and inspiring.

Just last weekend I finally got my elderberry and my wild rose in the ground.  I can’t believe how long they’ve hung on in their buckets of water.  It’s possible that now that they’re in the ground they’ll perish.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that I got out there and it felt so damn good.  There’s a lot of maintenance I need to do outside in the yard.  Naturally it started raining right after I got back in the dirt.  I think there are a few rain-free days coming up.

I know where I’ll be heading.

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