A Flood of Bureaucracy (1)
The heart bleeds at times, considering the amount of effort taken up in the daily life of bureaucratic nonsense. Take my driveway, for example.
I live at the end of a very long road on top of a tall hill. One of the neighbors rents out her property to one farmer or another, who usually grow cane berries such as raspberries or the local delicacy Olallieberries (like a blackberry on steroids.) These berries, for those of you unversed in the horticultural arts, are planted bare root, which means that little dry sticks are jabbed into the ground in early spring (which in northern California is really the same as winter.) Unfortunately, two years ago the guy decided to take advantage of a dry spell in early December to disk the land. The property, as I said, is on a hill. The hill is made of decomposed sandstone, ie, sand. January is our rainy season. And California gets ferocious rain.
Half the hillside ended up on the road and across the orchard of the valley bottom’e2’80’94you could see it, a great peninsula of sand stretching out its fingers among the apple trees. It clogged the culvert leading down to the creek; a foot of sandy water roared across the main road; one faint-hearted woman, hesitant to commit her car to what looked like a small river, drove clear to the top of the hill trying to work her way around it; road crews came out here at two in the morning in a futile attempt to clear the culvert, ending with just putting up a couple of warning flashers and going home again. It was, in short a mess.
The field has stood fallow since then, with a few spindly weeds giving clear evidence that there ain’e2’80’99t no topsoil here, friend. You can still see the remains of the five- and six-foot deep trenches the rain carved into the sand. We were lucky not to lose the driveway.
So last spring I decide that, since all the vegetation down there is gone, I probably should do something to keep the nearest sand from washing onto the road. I set up half a dozen flats full of the various tough varieties of succulent that I’e2’80’99ve got planted around the house, and in October, my blessed brother-in-law laboriously created a couple of very attractive terraces and laid the succulents and other plants in there.
I was so pleased, partly because the timing meant that we’e2’80’99d get the things rooted and growing before the dry season began, which meant I wouldn’e2’80’99t have to schlep water down the hill to keep them alive.
And then in January, just as the plants were getting themselves established, I went out for groceries one bright morning and found nothing there but a twenty by twenty foot patch of bootprints, rake marks, and sand.
Sand just waiting for the next rain to come and wash it onto the road.
(To be continued.)