Drought’s toll

Here in California, we watch the skies as if the collective pressure of our gazes could press moisture from the thin clouds.  Four years of drought are taking their toll:


This live oak came down a few days ago, just crashed to the ground without a breath of wind. Five trees have come down on our hilltop in the past couple of months, and more to come. Here’s a California Bay just off the deck, its leaves normally green and perky:

Bay tree

And if I stand and look off the deck into the valley, the trees are clearly stressed, and even if the rains come soon, may not survive.Trees

And the way they’re talking about El Niño, the trees that are still standing in January are going to wash down the valley in the storms.

(But of course, climate change is just a theory.)


  1. farmwifetwo on October 24, 2015 at 7:00 am

    20+yrs ago I sat in classes called fluid mechanics, soil science, soil engineering, drainage and irrigation, water quality, water chemistry, water conveyance and storage systems design… and the list goes on.

    One thing we were told getting our BSc(Eng) was the story of California and the US Mid West.

    See, you can’t irrigate a desert and you can’t drain an aquifer without consequences. Mother Nature has decided enough is enough. Yes, the “do gooders” call it global warming but the truth is… by over watering, you changed the climate of the area. Now, they have to figure out how to live with something they’ve ignored the warnings for, but has finally happened.

    Sorry about the trees. But I’m not surprised.

    • Laurie King on October 24, 2015 at 8:20 am

      Yes, the most ridiculous things are grown here in CA–which, as you say, is mostly a desert. And not just crops like rice and almonds, but lawns. For heaven’s sake, lawns are for England where it rains every other day! Our aquifers are more limited, here in the coastal mountains, and have pretty much nothing to do with trees that are growing on the tops of hills, but these deaths show the influence of our brutal ignorance (as in, ignore-ance) of consequences.

      • ann hunt on October 24, 2015 at 10:38 am

        Laurie, you forgot it’s lawns AND GOLF COURSES… Love the ingnore-ance. I often use dis-ease but I think ignore-ance will have a place now in my vocabulary. Thanks for sharing about the trees, I see this as well further north and grieve… Blessings!

    • Mari Bonomi on October 24, 2015 at 11:26 am

      While I am in complete agreement that in general you cannot irrigate a desert (though the Israelis did a dang good job with the Negev!) nor drain an aquifer without consequences (in Tidewater VA 2/3 of our aquifer is being drained by a pair of paper pulp plants), I cannot agree that the current drought situation in the western US is the result of people changing the climate by planting lawns and creating golf courses. That’s far too simplistic to explain world-wide climate changes.

  2. Janis Kiehl Harrison on October 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Here in Seattle, a few miles north of you, Laurie, we who might pay a bit of attention have seen this stress coming. Our water comes from the Cascade Mountains’ snowpack. Finally this year after several warmer, dryer years, we have no snowpack. And our region has further become impacted by a huge increase of water-greedy humans, most of whom don’t actually use all the water they consume to grow food or anything beneficial. The next few years may be a small, local Apocalypse.

    I feel so sad for our Eastern Washington farmers, who have been just about killed by this year’s wild fires. I’m 67, I’ve lived a fairly conservative lifestyle, and I slightly resent the privations we all will be facing because of the non-conservationists’ actions.

    But, aside from pontificating, I was delighted by your dissection of the word “ignorance.”

  3. Beth Havens on October 31, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    The Bay Laurel looks to be close enough to your home, that you might consider diverting your bathwater to water it. if you shower, you can still put a plug in the bottom and scoop the water out to water a tree or two. can’t save them all, but you can devote a little to one or two.

    Just a thought. down south we have begun to get some rain, but I’m looking forward to a wet Dec – Mar or more. and the riverbeds are so over grown I shudder to think about the havoc that is going to wreck!

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