You can tell by the gathering thunderheads that enough modern day shamans must have performed today’s most effective rain dance rituals— either by washing their cars or planning outdoor weddings in the spring. Not to be superstitious, but let us not jinx this by looking at the weather channel rather than stepping outdoors to feel the air. And quick, before the sky opens, let us reroute these aluminum gutters, street side gullies, concrete culverts, dikes, ducts and drains designed to protect us from flood by dehydrating the landscape. With some reverse engineering, backwards pioneering, and a handy undo-it-yourself mentality we can turn convention on its head like an upside-down umbrella and slow, spread, and sink this sweet rainfall. Let’s dig us some swales swollen with saturated sponges of punky wood and mushroom mycelium and strengthened with the rebar-like roots of resilient plants. Watch as these drops filter through the earth to fill our emptied aquifers, those underground rivers thirsty too long now under impervious parasols of parching pavement. Shakened and awakened by the thunder on the horizon now, why not go out barefoot in these cold showers, quench our skin, celebrate and sing our appreciation with the frogs?
I love running out on More Mesa. This is the view looking towards the thousand steps in Casein and colored pencil. Enjoy the rain this evening!
Cul de Sac Here you see a fifth acre of desert scrub. A black plastic weed barrier buried under decomposed granite with soggy cactus, overwatered mesquite, and Mojave natives poking their heads through circular holes. A tall century bloom swarms with hummingbirds. Next door, you find a formal lot imported from colonial England, with gingerbread epoxied to the stucco. A trimmed lawn with an ornamental plum sprouts bushes and hedges trimmed like lollipops. A red-brick walkway sways pleasantly to the red front door. Apparently, a fifth acre chunk of Hawaii has been excavated shipped overseas, and dropped into the plot next door... Plop! Bermuda grass, palm trees, ginger flowers and trailing bamboo... (the curse of colonial England next door) all flank a pink mailbox in a pad of black lava rock. Down the street, an awkward crispy orange pine tree and some ceramic squirrels create the high mountain ambiance of a Swiss glen. The Dutch annuals explode along the sidewalk like red, yellow, blue and green fireworks (miracle-y growing so far from their Nordic relatives) with their plastic name and care tags sprouting from the salt-and-pepper soil like fuses. The Hawaiians, Mexicans, English and Swiss gossip in their driveways, rolling eyes and cursing the house at the end of the block, so flagrantly violating the HOA... Just look at its weedy, unwatered yard going to seed: an unpruned wild oak planted by jays, dandelions, chickweed, lambs quarters, Red Maids and coastal sage overflowing the mowing strip... No gardeners here but the wild birds. Look at them munching wild seeds, checking their migration maps, and wondering “where on earth are we, anyway?”
A couple more paint sketches from one of my favorite trails…