I think I missed winter.
If it were not for the two little people I try desperately to keep up with and my slight case of insomnia I would swear I have channeled good ol’ Rip Van Winkle. The only logical explanation for missing an entire (not to mention necessary) season would be sleeping through it. But indeed it is fact, somehow we have made it through the latter part of 2011 and beginnings of 2012 with no true winter.
Arguably we have had our fair share of cold nights and early mornings. I have spoken much more of ‘black ice’ this winter than I have of puddles and that is what concerns me the most. We need rain.
Those who know me in my personal life have become a bit tired of hearing this from me. I did spend the majority of November and December begging my friends to do the California Rain dance and take their cars to get washed. It worked… once.
But, now we are in February. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and the promise of six more weeks of winter was accepted. Problem being winter never truly arrived. So in regards to the weather-predicting rodent the shadow discovery for me translates into six more weeks of the same - no rain.
I’ll admit I love sunshine just as much as the next girl. So much so that I spent six years of my adult life in beautiful ‘Sunny Southern California.’ Confession: there were several reasons I returned to the northern half of the state and one of the primary reasons was ‘wardrobe driven.’
I can still remember the looks on the faces of strangers when first arriving in Oakdale and writing checks (yes I used to write checks) for purchases. Staring at my La Jolla, California address on my license and my Oakdale address on my check quizzical looks would follow. Typically I would reply with an answer of ‘I missed my winter coat.’
This was an icebreaker, which typically lead to conversation and praise for the jeweled city, but I was serious. I missed closed toed shoes in winter, a heavy coat and a nice cable knit sweater.
Now as a resident of an ag community and a mommy of children who love learning about the ‘groceries we grow’ in the Valley, I’m worried.
I am not an Ag major (fashion was my game - which explains the previous confession), but I did pay a little bit of attention to the ‘life cycle’ portion of science, or was it biology, when I was in school. Either or, I think we all know that rain is vital for many things and not just snow so that people can ski or wear cute coats.
I love fresh food. Nothing says Spring or Summer better than some fresh fruit or vegetables grilled on the barbecue. Then of course there is also the meat we place on the barbecues or ice cream produced from the dairy cows. Lack of rain increases the cost of the farmers and ranchers tending to these luxuries.
Yes, luxury… I did indeed type that word on purpose.
Recently, while picking up a few things at the market I realized how fortunate we are to live in a state where we can purchase so much fresh food year round at reasonable prices. On this given day I spotted avocados (table ready) for the price of four for 99 cents.
As I bagged them up I thought of my cousin who lives in Southern Nevada and one of her visits to see us. As we drove home she spotted a home with an orange tree in their front yard. This was during a fruitful season and oranges laid around the base of the tree.
My cousin quickly gasped in horror as she proclaimed “Do you know how much I pay for oranges at home? That’s a lot of money lying on the ground.”
Sadly, I don’t know… because where we live it is a ‘luxury’ taken for granted.
Sure, weather professionals will reassure the nightly viewers that our reserve is fine and while the lack of rain is troublesome ‘we’re fine.’ I recently listened to one report that it’s ‘only when we face two winters like this that we must worry.’
Well, I’m not a gambler. So if it’s okay with you Mr. Weatherperson, I would rather not wait until next year to figure out if we are in a ‘bad way.’
In the meantime, miles away from the news studios, land is already being irrigated. Irrigating began for some in January, for those who do not know what ‘irrigating’ is (or if that’s normal) as a past country dweller I can honestly say no it is not. And by the way, that irrigating water must come from somewhere and it is not the snow melting in the mountains.
So what does all this mean? What is the solution to the problem? Sadly, that I do not have at the ends of my fingertips. I can, however, offer this advice.
Proceed with caution, eat the fresh food while it is within arm’s reach and your wallet’s capacity. And… if all else fails… get your car washed. Something has to work - eventually.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.