Fifty shades of green by Sue Robin, Los Angeles, California
The myth is that Los Angeles has no change of seasons. Some people move here for the perennial summer, and others move to faraway places to see the leaves change and to freeze their asses off. Today, on the 29th of December, with all the wrapping paper and ribbon tossed, I can tell you that fall has arrived, finally. The seasons are as independent as the people, I guess.
There are two dozen trees on Ventura Boulevard that have turned a sunny yellow and when they drop their leaves it looks as though the sidewalk is paved with gold. If you happen to turn down Kester, you will be treated to the vibrant beauty of orange, red and umber leaves. Granted it is not a forest of trees turning, but it is glorious, nonetheless.
After a rather long dry spell, there is rain and temperatures in the forties. Almost six inches have fallen since the first of December. It will rain today, and tomorrow, too. Can you see me doing my happy dance? The rain changes everything and nothing.
There is a joyous chorus echoing off every plant and tree. Instead of being cloaked in soot and grime, they are all washed clean, and the variety of greens can be seen once again. Instead of fifty shades of gray, there are fifty shades of green, from a muted olive to a vibrant emerald. The hills are smothered in new grass. It makes it easy to fall in love with this place all over again.
We are cautioned that this does not mean the drought is over nor that the rains will continue, even this season. The norm here is around fifteen inches; last year only four inches fell. The reservoirs are at the lowest I have seen in my lifetime (almost three-quarters of a century). There was insufficient snowpack to help the last few years. Farmers have sucked the aquifers to near catastrophic levels. Rationing has been ordered in Marin County, and those of us in Southern California have been asked to voluntarily cut back.
People who visit my home ask why we keep a bucket in the shower. Simple answer: The shower is on the second floor and the water heater is in the basement, three floors down. It takes a long time and a lot of water down the drain before we can climb into a hot shower. We capture that water and water the indoor plants or use it for a toilet flush. We have done that since the last drought. A small thing, except when you consider how many households there are in this city.
While this year appears to be more like the good old days and will provide some respite from the drought, it is not the good old days. While we are doing our happy dance here, we are also looking to the future and the desperate need for us as a society to take what is happening to us seriously. For each of us to conserve and appreciate what we have. For us to come to an agreement on how to address climate change and save our planet and all the beauty it has to offer. Maybe then we can all join hands and do a happy dance together.