What’s this stuff falling from the sky?

It is raining in California. Raining, pouring, pelting, pissing down in a way it hasn’t for years. Hillsides slump, culverts fountain, trees collapse. Feet mildew and children climb the walls. The cell phone has taken to blaring out really quite redundant flood warnings, to suggest to the oblivious or catatonic that the creeks may be rising.

The last time we had quite this much rain was thirty years ago. I was in India when I happened to buy a copy of the international edition of Time magazine, and opened it to see my home town.

We’re not quite that bad yet. But there’s also a rather dramatic combination of high tides and record swells out in Monterey Bay, which has inflicted what may be its terminal injuries on our beloved Cement Boat

the SS Palo Alto

just two years short of her centenary.  She was built during WWI, an experiment in finding an alternative to steel for the Navy, but was not launched until after the war was over.  Instead, she found a grand social life hosting dances, swim parties—and later, a young resident of Santa Cruz who fished off the boat with her father, and who would one day become a writer of mysteries.

But one thing we can say: this five-year drought is now officially over, done, dusted.

(Until next year…)


  1. Bradley Harper on January 23, 2017 at 10:14 am


  2. Korina on February 1, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    I remember that flood; I was a very young woman with the California Conservation Corps, stationed in Yountville, near Napa. I was part of two crews that spent a couple of months at the Marconi Inn on Tomales Bay, cleaning up the mess. And holy cow, what a mess. It was an interesting time.

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