Wild Tapestry

Rain and sun shape California. When I lived in the Bay Area in the early 90s I didn’t know anything about the scarcity and expectation of rain. I had spent my entire life in France between Normandy and Paris where it rains so much that it is no longer a gift from the sky.
My first years in California were paradise to the Parisian I was. It barely rained during five years but I didn’t miss it at all. Rain then meant messy commutes and ruined weekends.
Then I moved to New England. The longing for rain on a hot summer day, the watching for the first changes of color in the leaves that only happens with the right amount of rain, the anticipation of snow that will feed rivers and the impatience for the first flowers that com with the last rains made me aware of the role of rain.
Yet it is only when I discovered Central California that rain became more than a word.
Between the constant farming water issues, the wild fires that devour everything on their paths after long periods of drought and the simple needs of the gardeners, rain took its real meaning.
Anytime from November to January, Central Californians wait for the first rain of the season. How much rain we will receive matters to so many more than the residents of this large section of the state that goals are targeted and estimates calculated. Rain has to be shared between cities and farming areas.
It has rained more this year than it has for the last two. The golden wild grass turned green before Thanksgiving and snow fell early. Soil is soaking wet. Seasonal streams and falls are running. Cattle are grazing on moist grass. Quails dig for seeds and birds for worms. And humans can’t get their eyes off one of the greatest natural shows on earth.
In the deep and large Central Valley wildflowers are taking over the dry land. Popcorn flowers, baby blue eyes, lupines, buttercups, poppies, bluebells explode and the fields transform themselves into a wild tapestry that comes in orange, white, purple, blue and red. The beauty of the annual native Californian flowers is their simplicity and their short life. No one can anticipate if the year will or not be a great wildflower year. However the proper amount of rain seems to play a key role and that’s why I still hope for a last shower before entering the endless rainless flowerless California summer.

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