Too Much Of A Good Thing Is Not Too Good

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Ah, beautiful life-giving rain.

I know it’s a boring cliché to talk about the weather, but when you live in the driest state, on the driest continent on the planet, a few days of rain is an exciting event.

Since I last posted we’ve had a couple of days of rain, and it’s raining as I write this. Not such a big deal when your annual rainfall is 30 inches or more. But when it averages just 11 inches, and you rely on rainwater to survive, well, you can understand why I’m so enthusiastic about it.

Around here, we have a love/hate relationship with rain. There are times we go months without seeing a single drop of it. That’s when we’d love to have some, and that’s when I like to watch movies featuring lots of rain. Those lucky people, how I miss the sight, the sound, the feel, and smell of it.

And then, there are times when we get almost our annual average rainfall, sometimes much more, in the space of two days. That’s the hate part of the relationship. We desperately need the rain, but sometimes Mother Nature gets frisky and gives us too much all at once.

I live between two creeks. These creeks are usually dry, and form part of the road. But when we get a lot of rain in a short space of time, those creeks become raging torrents and there’s no way out until they subside.

Dry creek beds cut through the country around here, carving the land into odd-shaped pieces. They’re our natural drainage system and have evolved over thousands of years. They’re all connected and do a great job of transporting excess flood water to the nearest lake.

But, alas, all the floodwater from up north has to pass through, as well as the rain we’re getting.

Not only is it messy and inconvenient, big, fast-moving water can do some serious damage.

A few months after I moved here in 2006, we had over 9 inches of rain dumped on us in 24 hours. The landscape and infrastructure were ill-equipped to handle it and chaos ensued. Roads were torn apart, and steel bridges were smashed and turned into twisted metal as the huge wall of water surged through, widening the creeks and permanently changing the local geography.

Enormous uprooted trees bobbed along the creeks like driftwood. Even when the water receded a week later, it wasn’t safe to drive through the creeks. Most were full of debris and much deeper than they were before.

People were left stranded for days. The power and phones were out. Groups of animals were isolated where they’d moved to higher ground. Many washed away when the floodwaters gushed through suddenly, to become a part of the wreckage we had to clean up.

Since then, we’ve had flash floods, usually every year, but nothing of that magnitude. It’s not something I care to experience again.

I can live with the minor disruption of flooded creeks and not being able to get out for a few hours. The parched earth readily soaks up the water and the damage is minimal. The benefits of the rain far outweigh the annoyance.

This year, it seems the rain is being kind, and falling gently and regularly. No flooding, just a bit boggy for a while. My tanks are already half-full, and tiny shoots are giving the countryside a lush green tinge. Of course, they’re all weeds, and I’ll be grumbling about them before too long.

But for now, my world is cool, green and wet. Much more user-friendly than the hot, brown and dry land of a few months ago.

Winter isn’t my favorite time of year, but this one is shaping up to be very pleasant. I’m not even missing summer yet; perhaps I’m getting old. Although, if you ask me in a month or two, when the frost sets in, you’ll likely find I’ve changed my opinion somewhat.

Until next time … keep the faith.