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Major Mitchell

STORIES OF THE OLD WEST FOR A NEW GENERATION

When the Storm Passes

The good news from California is that it isn’t raining today. That’s an odd thing to be saying about the state I’ve lived in all my life. As a child, I can remember honestly praying that it would rain, and being disappointed when it didn’t. On the few instances when it did, the first thing my two sisters closest to my age and I would do was  run to the street to play in the mud. We didn’t have a concrete curb and gutter or blacktop at that time, but we had plenty of mud. I’m sure our mother really loved doing our laundry. More rain is predicted for tomorrow and Saturday.

But such is life when you grow up in the Borrego Desert of California. While it is now known as one of America’s great farming areas, it once was known as a hot, waterless wasteland, only fit for rattlesnakes and lizards. The summer heat will rise to a hundred degrees by 12:00 noon, and keep climbing until around 4:00 p.m. In the middle of the summer, those who have air conditioners keep their doors and windows closed to keep the heat out. The rest just suffer.

Over the years we moved several times, until landing in Oakdale. It didn’t settle into my brain that I had moved to an identical place to where I had been raised. Of course there are a few differences. The San Juaquin Valley where I live has several rivers carrying fresh water, and is covered with wild grass and oak trees. The Imperial Valley had only two rivers, New River and the Alamo River, that carry sewage from Mexicali and are better left alone. Both of these rivers are fairly new bodies of water, having been created by a flood in 1905 when the Colorado River breached its banks in Arizona and rushed toward the lowest point, which happened to be the Salton Sea. But that’s another story for a different time.

Back to why no rain is good news for California today. We had some substantial rain, followed by an entire week of rain, followed by a dry day, and then followed by two more rainy days. The experts tell us to hang on, because we will have two more days of rain beginning on Friday. That’s both good and bad. It is good for the cattle and some farmers, but bad for the nut farmers and citrus growers. It all depends on who you are talking to at the moment. Sort of like politics. So, I’ve decided, at least for today, I’ll sit here in my recliner with a hot cup of coffee and watch a good western on T.V. and thank God I’m not out in the cold rain. God bless.

 

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