Saturday, November 01, 2008


Northern California has a "mediterranean" climate - summer drought, winter rainy season.

During the dry season, the air is very dry, grasses turn golden (hence California's nickname "The Golden State") and native trees adapted to the climate send taproots deep to chase the previous wet season's receding moisture. Away from the ocean, the air begins heating in May, and by July, the temperatures in the Central Valley are over 100 degrees on a regular basis, with occasional heatwaves sending the mercury north of 110 degrees. The only redeeming feature of those days is the humidity is very low; however, a temperature of 115 degrees is hot enough that coming out of Safeway is a bit of a shock - the superheated air actually hurts your skin.

Fall is a time of increasing humidity, as Pacific storms begin their annual assault on the summer high pressure system over the west coast. The first shower usually tantalizes the parched flora some time in mid-October, and the dry season finally releases its hold in early November, and first soaking rains fall.

And indeed, last night the first pouring rains fell on parched earth and doused the last remnants of the summer fires. Yes, the rains have returned like a friend too long away; today the native Live Oaks are drinking deeply, joyously of the waters of renewal, the grasses are preparing the first green shoots, and the Manzanita and Toyon bushes are releasing aromatic oils and perfuming the air.

The air is humid, the clouds dark, but the air is filled with promise.

Change is in the air.

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