Winter fell on a Tuesday this year, and it fell with a vengeance, exposing all those hidden places in life — in Sonoma County — where we’re most vulnerable.
Trees. Roads. Power poles. They succumbed at their weakest joints, leaving blackouts, traffic jams and new lakes in their wake.
At one point today, this was the count: nine county roads flooded, 2,215 customers out of power, one sewing store at Coddingtown Mall severely damaged. Nearly 3 inches of rain fell in some areas.
Our rainy season has been like this in recent years. In like a lion, out like a damp lamb.
Will it be the same this year?
Construction crews had been preparing for days, rushing to put up tarps. Vineyard workers scrambled to bring in the last of the harvest. Police officers and road crews broke out the foul weather gear.
No matter the warnings, such abrupt shifts in seasons always seem to find many of us unprepared. Patio umbrellas, barbecues and the toys of summer, which should have been stored away suddenly become the playthings of weather — objects to be chased down and secured in our slippers.
For some of us, our embarrassments were even more visible to the neighbors. We ran out to retrieve the newspaper, coats draped over our heads because we couldn’t find a blasted umbrella anywhere, only to see the sprinklers hissing at us.
Moments later, grandma was on the phone gently reminding us that we had not cleaned out her gutters. But not to worry. She’s sure it will be fine.
My 6-year-old was the first to notice at breakfast that a section of our back fence had come undone at one post. The fence section waved at me with every gust of wind.
This caused a commotion as, despite my assurances, Clara refused to finish her piano practice until she was certain that our Sheltie, Cody, was secure in our backyard.
So I was back outside in my Dearfoams, calling for the family dog only to discover that he had, indeed, escaped — not through the broken fence but by a side gate blown open by the wind.
Bedlam ensued. Clara cried. Christopher ran for the scooter. Mom pleaded for calm. Fortunately, calm prevailed amid this storm among a storm.
With my wife’s assurances, we left the front door open and stepped back. Sure enough, within minutes that wet mass of fur my children claim as a family member, and my wife seems to understand on some visceral level, strolled home on his own. A first.
He looked up at me with an expression that said, “Yes, I love a good chase. But let’s be reasonable in a time like this.”
Yes, we all must make sacrifices.
He was swiftly covered in towels and embraces and rewarded with a trip to school in the mini-van.
“I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains,” wrote Adeline Knapp, a Bay Area journalist, more than 100 years ago. “One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.”
True enough. But there will be time enough to explore that world, that world of rain and the poetry it shakes loose, after we fix the fence — and find that stupid umbrella.
— Paul Gullixson