I’m warning you first off that this is not an optimistic post. I thought I could get some form of humor out of it, but it just ain’t funny.

People in California are praying for rain, even when they’re agnostics. I’m sure you have heard the saying that there are no atheists in foxholes? Well it’s the same in a drought. Parched, we all turn pious.

We diligently watch the weather reports, which tell us that tomorrow will be in the 80’s or possibly in the 90’s, with the possibility of triple digit temperatures inland. The weather maps float around in brilliant hues showing all the colors of the warm palette; yellow, orange, and finally slipping into red. Under blazing skies wildfires continue to ravage dry forest land, and threaten hillsides barren of anything but scrub grass. A wildfire doesn’t discriminate; as long as it is burnable, it’s fair game. And speaking of game, the little animals who seek shelter from the unrelenting sunshine, are driven further afield and away from the crackling inferno. But to where?

We are put on water-saving alert, and may only water our gardens once a week. For those of us with large areas to hydrate, it presents a problem. We recycle everything, using grey water to pour on the garden plants. After using every possible way to save water, I was surprised and incensed to receive a notice from the water company that our usage was higher than any comparable property in our neighborhood. My normal reaction was; “what do they want from me?”

Neighbor watches neighbor to see if their lawns are turning brown. Some towns have signs that state “Brown is the New Green”. We are threatened by a possible $500 fine or at least a monthly penalty. And yet the golf courses remain green. I’m not a golfer, so perhaps that isn’t a fair complaint.

Reading further down the notice from the water company, I found their record showed only one person living here! I haven’t decided which one of us is leaving.

This is a replay of the drought of thirty years ago. That lasted so long I bought another large plastic garbage bin to put beside the washer, and bucketed out the grey water. I’m not looking forward to it this time, but it does lend a certain degree of smugness when bragging about the number of water saving tricks you are using. In that drought, restaurants had cute little cards on each table reminding you to ask if you want water. Now when I ask for any, I make sure I sit there till I drink it all.

Spirits were lifted somewhat by the hope that another El Nino would send all the rain we needed in a month or so, but since that has been downgraded to 65%, don’t go betting all the benjamins on it. The reason seems to be the lack of the Equatorial Kelvin wave. Since I’m not a scientist, I don’t know if that’s a surfing type wave. My surfing friends and family may have to go somewhere other than California to practice their sport.


The coastal waves were building up a week or so ago and the surfers were clamoring to throw themselves into each wave. We’ve seen more sharks and whales coming closer to shore, being swept along by warmer water.

Remember that Joseph, after he got his coat of many colors, predicted seven years of drought (famine) before seven years of plenty. So far we have had only three years of this drought.

We spent last weekend in Seattle, which is noted for its rain, although having lived there, I think that’s something they tell Californians to keep them out of Washington. There was a delicious smell of ozone in the air one evening and a light sprinkle dampened the sidewalks and cleared off the dust of the day.

But what comes around, goes around, and this too will pass. But if El Nino ever comes, remember you wished for it. For the record, El Nino is not a storm, and “El Nino is Spanish for “the child”.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

17 thoughts on “DROUGHT MENTALITY”

  1. In Australia droughts are the norm and we have water saving methods that inlude; if it is yellow let it mellow but if it is brown, flush it down. Neighbours pop in to see if this is complied with. It is a bit crude but has been taken on board enthousiastically and as much as letting the dished soak overnight in water saved from the washing machine. Car washing is only allowed by bucket and hosing the garden during the evening or before sun rise. That is during droughts. Right now we had flooding in our neck of the woods, probably water meant for your woods or deserts.


  2. Yes, a tremendous amount of water is wasted by the toilet. I have often thought of the number of times multiple toilets are flushed at a sports event. We are doing that too. Dr. Advice took our cars to the car wash. They look a lot better!

    We usually blame Southern California for taking “our” water. We all take too many things for granted.


  3. Before our move, we lived for 14 years on a property with a well. Although the quality of the water was excellent, the well produced only 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. To put that into perspective, it took 60 gallons of water to fill our rather large bathtub. Once, although we weren’t aware of it, a toilet was slowly (and soundlessly) leaking water. Over the course of the night, 500 gallons of water drained from our holding tank, emptying it entirely.

    Since the move, we have all that city water gushing from the taps, but we still have the habit of water frugality. I don’t water the lawn, we don’t linger in the shower, we turn off the tap while we brush our teeth.

    Water is serious business, for sure. Remember that old saying, “Whisky’s for drinking, water’s for fighting.”?


    1. I love the Whiskey drinking phrase. In the 20’s water wars took place in Southern California when farmers diverted water for the hundreds of acres of oranges. The Los Angeles River is a joke, because it became nothing but a drainage ditch after the water left.

      When pipelines were put into Alaska, they said a third pipeline should be put in for water. That didn’t happen.

      A leaking toilet can waste a tremendous amount of water. It’s scary to realize just how much.

      We normally are careful about water but much more so now.


  4. You paint a vivid picture of California’s water crisis and how much we depend on this most fundamental requirement for life itself. Underlying the whole experience is an anxiety that it may never rain again and an elemental sense of helplessness echoing from our ancient superstitious past.

    In 1976, despite its situation in the temperate, rain-bringing North Atlantic Drift, Britain suffered a an extended drought, bringing similar voluntary and compulsory rationing, fires, deep concerns about a permanent climate change and talk, by some of divine retribution and end-days.

    By the August of that year, there were demands for government action amid fears of civil unrest and social disorder. In response, the Prime Minister, Mr Jim Callaghan, appointed a Minister for Drought, who, poor man, had about him a sense of inevitable failure, a mere mortal set, as he was, against the all-powerful and impersonal forces of Nature.

    Have no fear. Within days, there followed an incessant and awe-inspiring downpour which filled the reservoirs and rivers, gushed off the roofs, gurgled through the parched earth and restored the verdant pastures. It was not long before the citizens of this land recovered their respect for the Rule of Law and reurned to their profligate ways.

    Yet the absoluteness of the shortage served as an admonishment not to take our comforts for granted. Public authorities never quite recovered their equanimity and clever academics began to work on how a repetition of the consequences of waste and unequal distribution might be overcome.

    In the Autumn of 2012, the Meteorological Office warned of the dire consequences of a drought which were forecast as imminent. By the February of 2013 the record rainfalls began and caused floods, the like of which had not been since 1953. Calls for Government action to deal with flood protection replaced proposals for a water grid. Water supplies combined with a beautiful Summer, warm weather and sunshine have produced bumper harvests.

    Efforts to influence our climate may be of little avail. All the more important, then, is it for us to be vigilant for those principles we can preserve: freedom, justice, compassion and the fight against indiscriminate cruelty, oppression and prejudice.


    1. When we review the past, it seems plausible to fear a return of permanent drought. We have spent a great deal of time in the Southwest, and see reminders of a long forgotten verdant past. When there is a rainfall, the water runs into flash floods on the dry ground. My aunt and uncle spent 30 years in Saudi Arabia, and on archeological digs, frequently dug not only remnants of a household past, but seashells!

      I remember your rainfall of 2013. That was the year our granddaughter and her husband were planning to move to London. She said it rained for months. He was the European director of Skype for Microsoft. As it turned out, he had to spend so much time in China and Estonia, it didn’t seem feasible to live in London.


      1. How interesting about your aunt and uncle! Their discoveries bring home to you the volatility of the Earth’s climate and the impermanence of familiar surroundings. The rate of change reminds us of the fragility of the environment. No doubt human activities are a factor and the slightest adjustments may cause major change.

        That your grandaughter and her husband decided not to live in London was London’s loss. His is a key appointment in the development of computing. I should like to know his views on prediction of long-range climate change. I had always supposed that the so-called “butterfly effect” meant this was impossible, however powerful the computers.

        There is no escaping, however, the harmful effects of waste and pollution, whatever the implications for climate change.

        Yes, you’re right. 2013 was a wet year as well as this year. Your grip on events is stronger than mine!


    1. Yes, we live in a bubble of impermanence. The first time I heard the term “butterfly effect” was from Bradbury’s book “A Sound of Thunder”. I’m sure there are many examples of it, but one that comes to mind is a certain flower which only grows on the side of a mountain in Hawaii and was pollinated by a particular moth. Something ate the moth, which meant that the flower was in trouble. Now people climb down the side of the hill where the flower grows and hand-pollinate them, otherwise—no moth, no flower, etc. Perhaps WE are the butterfly effect?


      1. Let us hope that all the achievements of the last 400 years, brought about by conscious reconciliation, mutual understanding, tolerance and merging of cultures and blood ties, are not cast aside in a single act of folly.


  5. During our most recent bad drought in 2011, it became almost unbearable. Houston lost something like 600,000 trees. Wildfires abounded. Farmers sold their cattle because there was no grass. All of the usual complications arose, including broken water lines from the ground drying out and shifting.

    The thing about drought is that it’s a silent, slow-motion disaster. A hurricane? You prepare. It comes, it goes. Cleanup proceeds apace. Likewise with tornados, or earthquakes. But drought? It gets on your nerves, and pretty soon everyone is irritable. Despair is just down the road. “Waiting for Rain” was the title of one of my drought posts. “Waiting” defines life in drought.

    For us, getting out of it took a good bit of time, too. When the first rains began to come, the moisture simply evaporated. It took time for the atmosphere to moisten back up. But it did — and you’d better believe I hope yours does too, and quickly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember reading about your drought in 2011. Horrible. We are always at the mercy of Nature. I’m getting a kick out of this new group of protestors about to move on Washington for “Climate Control”. I don’t know what they think we can do to stop the crazy weather all over the world. It isn’t the “normal” weather pattern anywhere in the world anymore. There are a few things we can do like stop using aerosols, etc., but what else I don’t know.

      The trouble here in the Bay Area is the adobe soil. When it finally does rain, it will roll off the ground like off a duck’s back When we lived in Washington with it’s porous soil it simply sunk in. A farmer friend of ours from California came for a visit and told us it was a good thing the soil was so porous since it rained so often.

      Meanwhile we collect ideas on saving water. It makes us feel so pure when we watch our green lawns fade into final oblivion! I drive around town checking out lawns!


  6. A few years back now, our ten year drought ended but we have been put on permanent water saving rules. Hoses must have trigger attachments so they can be turned off instantly – especially during car washing. Our water catchments rely on the El Nino (or maybe the other one) to replenish water stocks, usually has about three top rainfall years then drops off for some time. I never use anything but greywater on my garden, even now. I hope it rains for you soon, Kayti.


  7. OMG! Ten years of drought. And we are complaining about three. It’s a possibility that we may be put on permanent water saving after this drought. Our water table is dropping, and the land is sinking accordingly. Our farmers are naturally worried since California supplies such a large proportion of produce.

    We have the trigger control on hoses, letting lawns go. We have so many large shrubs that I would hate to lose. Trying to even keep greywater at a minimum. There’s a lot we can do, and we all know we waste too much water.

    Thanks for your input Christine.


Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: