Life After the Drought

I feel like I just awoke from a long coma. This last Thanksgiving was full of mirth to the point of making me a useless blob. My hobbies have included laying East/West on the couch watching Netflix, laying West/East on the couch watching Netflix, steadily observing the physical changes (or lack there of) of piles of dirty dishes and generally boring the shit out of my dog, my girlfriend and you, my gentle readers. For that I am sorry. Not so sorry that I didn’t enjoy the indulgence of my inertia or revel in my lethargy. Because I truly did. But, I’m back now. At least until Christmas rolls around.

A few things have happened since I wrote last. I “celebrated” by ten year anniversary at the San Diego Museum of Art. Which was uneventful and unnoticed by all. So it goes. Something else happened that was more exciting. The most awful drought was lifted by several days of heavy rainfall! Jubilation! Oh, I also got my very first laptop! A generous early Christmas gift from my mother. Before you ask, yes, I am a grown ass man. But I work for a non-profit museum who pays in ulcers more than cash so mom comes to my rescue now and again (thanks mom). Now I get to write to you from exotic and foreign locales…like Starbucks on Euclid! Crap. I just realized that I am becoming one of THOSE people! Douche-ily tapping away in public, playing at being a for real writer while sipping on my large Hammerhead. Gross.

Anyhoo, back to the rain. I’ve been spending the last three years landscaping the hell out of my property. One of the practices I’ve been focusing on in these beginning stages is leveling the yard to best collect rainfall and deposit it where I want it to go while keeping ALL of it on my property. Then, it essentially stopped raining for a few years. My water bills began climbing, my plants began suffering and even worse, I could never see if all my hard work was actually working or not. Color me disenfranchised.

Then, Wednesday morning at 4:07 a.m. a massive deluge ripped out of the heavens loaded with fat bloated droplets of precious water. Loud enough to wake me out of a deep tryptophan coma. My 4th of such comas, but not my last this week. I jumped out of bed in a half blind and wholly clumsy stupor and gathered supplies. Those supplies being, rolled up pajama bottoms, a warm robe, dog chewed flip flops, a Maglite and a tattered umbrella.

Sasha looked up at me from the warmth of the bed like I was a mad man. “Why leave the comfort of this bed for the deluge of cold and wet that awaits you outside?” she seemed to say. But out I went anyways.

Living without rain for years is such a foreign concept for me. Buffalo, NY had no shortage of weather so living in a desert like environment has been a long adjustment. But now it was coming down hard. My dry riverbed had become a raging river! And all the channels and pathways were gathering and containing the river exactly as they were sculpted to do! Success at long last. Even the chicken coop was proving to be water tight. Or water resistant at least. Too bad Piper decided it would be best to roost outside that night. Poor girl was soaked. I wrapped her in a towel and warmed her cooing wet self. The berm I created in the back of the lot was trapping any water attempting to escape into the barren wasteland that is my neighboring lot. I slipped off my decimated flip flops and let my toes squish the cold mud and dance in the deep puddles. Anyone else who was up at such a witching hour must have thought me a lunatic. And maybe they’d be right. My rain barrel was over flowing and my automatic sprinkler system was joyfully set to “Rain Delay”. Life was to return to my desert.

This continued every night for the next three nights. Late night visitations from swollen storm clouds belching their gifts upon a drought weary Southern California. Filling up dried reservoirs, quenching potential wildfires and simply washing the grime off of the face of this scorched corner of the globe.

This morning when I woke up, the storm had passed and the sun shone brightly. I walked the yard to see what changes occurred and to rejoice in the fact that I don’t have to water the plants for a while.

The first thing I noticed was some bright flashing colors on my little milkweed that I planted last summer.

Can you see?


How about now? Look harder


Nope. Not there.

Three beautiful monarch caterpillars were beginning to stir. One was already having breakfast, but the other two were still sleeping with their little heads tucked snuggly under their bodies. Observe the cuteness please…

Sleeping Monarch Caterpillar
Do Monarch Caterpillars Dream?
Nom Nom Nom
Breakfast of Champions!

I love that I finally have a place to attract monarchs. I can’t wait till these fat little cuties form their beautiful chrysalis. Seeing them this morning and smelling the wonderful freshness after the heavy rains inspired me to look more closely at the subtle changes that are occurring now that thirsts have been quenched. I began crawling around looking for more tiny signs of new life. Take a walk with me. A neature walk. Not a typo. A reference to one of my favorite things on the interwebs.


I digress. Let’s continue our tour…



The beginnings of a California Poppy.


Flower from the Cat Scram


A rejuvenated Dusty Miller.


First bloom of a newly planted nasturtium.


Osteospermum showing signs of life.


Strawberries in December!


Ever bearing strawberries indeed.


Calla Lilies pushing up.


Calla Lilies rejoicing in the rain.


Mystery lilies popping up all over the place. In December no less.


My slow growing pineapple is looking great too.


The Winter Cover Crop is exploding with growth.


Some flowers from an unknown succulent.


A beautiful Desert Rose in glowing cool colors.

So that’s how I spent the early hours of this fine Saturday morning. Taking in all the new growth and reinvigorated plants. Sometimes when I look out into the yard, all I see is all the things that need to be fixed. Everything seems like failed attempts at creating my dream oasis. Other days, I can look at the same scene and see nothing but beauty. Today was the later. Life seems to be everywhere back there after this last big rain. My current water bill was lower than its been in a long time. I’ve finally shaken off the last of my food comas and I’m back writing again. If only I was as inspired to continue to clean my house as I am to hang out in the warm sunshine and write blog posts. Any house cleaners out there that work for high fives? I hope you enjoyed the photos and the tour of this life after the drought.

Post Script:

The whole time I was writing this post, I kept getting these flashbacks to childhood of a illustrated novel my parents had about caterpillars. I used to love the artwork and I couldn’t shake the memories as they flooded in. I couldn’t find anything online so I called mom, but she didn’t recall. And why should she, that was way back in the early seventies after all.

Well, I finally found it! It’s called Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. Apparently, my mom was a revolutionary thinker in the early seventies. Check it out online y’all. They have online PDF’s of it. Looking at the artwork gave me flashbacks to my early childhood. I used to pull this book of my mom’s shelf all the time to look at those drawings. I loved this book so much. I just ordered a used copy for .45 cents. Ahh nostalgia, you sweet temptress.

Hope for the Flowers

0 Replies to “Life After the Drought”

  1. Lol!!! I am still laughing as I write this!! I have been feeling the same way since Thanksgiving:(. I love the feeling of exploring everything popping after a good rain. Can’t get over your plants… Loving the December strawberries and that pineapple plant! ‘fat little cuties’, ha!! Too funny and yes, very cute and gratifying to see those Monarchs in the making. Think I’ll read this again…

    1. Haha, thanks Cynthia. It feels good to dust off the cobwebs and begin moving again. Reminds me of two Easters ago when I went into a ham coma. I referred to it as the year of hamgasm. I kept sneaking into the kitchen to carve off slabs and wolf them down. My friends had to intervene and I wasn’t allowed to go into my own kitchen without a chaperone. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I’m in the yard now, checking out all the new growth and saying hello to the monarchs. Cheers!

  2. By the way. I can’t stress enough how funny that video is to me. I’ve seen it hundreds of times over the years, and it just gets funnier. You can’t be my true friend unless you get down with the neature.

  3. One more thing. Does anyone remember a children’s book about monarch caterpillars? It’s not the hungry little caterpillar that I’m thinking of. I remember it in the mid-seventies, but it may be older than that. I recall an image of one colorful fuzzy caterpillar with a whole mess of grey caterpillars. I believe the art was all watercolor. I tried like mad to find it while I was writing this post. Any ideas?

  4. I have never typed the letters LOL together in capitals to express how funny something was to me, ever. Nor do I plan to do so at any point in the future, through text or otherwise. But In this case, its describes what I was doing perfect. LOL my friend. Great post.

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