Monday, December 20, 2010

mother nature

The last few days, I've been struck by the wonders of this place where I live. It is breathtakingly beautiful and the boundaries between civilization and the wilderness are quite narrow and close by. It is very common to see a pod of dolphins and not unheard of that one will see whales from the beach. Bears and deer are very often seen and there are many hiking trails with warnings about mountain lions. Rattlesnakes and tarantulas are found on mountain trails. Then there are the mountain lions of the sea - sharks - and they are sighted fairly often and every few years one attacks a swimmer or surfer. The power, the beauty, the danger, the wonder are all there. Today, three pieces really got me - one pretty dramatic and two more ordinary.

There was a song back in the 70's that had a chorus that went something like - "it never rains in California, but boy, don't they warn ya, it pours, man, it pours." It's been pouring where we live. Typical rainfall in Santa Barbara is about 15 inches a year spread over the rainy season. Now it is true that it usually comes in a few larger storms rather than a bunch of small ones. This week has been a doozy! Since Friday morning, at the San Marcos Pass which goes across the Santa Ynez Mountains just south of Santa Barbara, there has been almost 12 inches of rain and as much as 5 more are forecast before Wednesday night. The city of Santa Barbara has gotten 7+ in the same time period. It is wild to see the runoff in the creeks which just a short time ago were dry. And you can almost see the water rise in the man-made lake where we get much of our drinking water. Luckily there have not been any serious landslides but that still could happen.

Yesterday, as I was going into my office I looked down at the sidewalk and saw what I thought was a stick about 3 inches long that looked like a newt. I went into the office and remarked to Cheryl how cool the little stick was. A few minutes later as I walked past it on my way to one of our other buildings, I looked again... and sure enough, it was a newt. The coolest little thing. I moved him (without touching him - that can be bad for newts) so nobody would step on him.

The third piece happened this afternoon. We stopped by one of our favorite wineries - Beckmen - and on the way home, going down a country road, we came around a bend and there in the middle of the road was a beautiful coyote... with a rooster in his mouth. He dropped the rooster and ran when he saw us. The rooster was quite dead so it didn't do anyone any good. Hopefully the coyote came back and got his meal... why should the rooster have died for nothing?

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