The start of rainy season is always a happy moment. Months of summer city dust are washed off every surface, and everything sparkles, even the sidewalks. You can see the plants breath.
But other than that, every rainy season is different. It is always a new story unfolding. Some rainy seasons start with a deluge. Others are more polite, even timid. Some appear to be stingy… until you’ve given up hope. Then they really surprise you. The year I planted poppies to compare land use in three different neighborhoods, the sky gave us rain every two weeks, as if on an irrigation timer. After that I felt like good friends with the rainy season.
To get to the store, I walk up a big hill which runs through one of the only remaining patches of undeveloped land close by, always feeling like a pioneer as I reach the crest of the hill to view the amazing valley that now appears so small beneath.
I suspect most people might not realize this is undeveloped land. It could be a beautiful hill– like the kind that exist in our wealthy neighboring towns. However, every fall, right before rainy season, crews of guys with noisy equipment shave its entire surface of any vegetative growth. This often is a dramatic effort involving safety ropes– operating sharp equipment on a steep slope above fast moving cars is probably a little unsafe. It is a multi-day effort– they don’t stop until the whole hill starts to resemble a mound of freshly poured concrete. That’s all I personally noticed about this hill… until I started walking into town more regularly.
A pedestrian might notice amazing tiny things happening on this hill throughout the year. But right now is probably its most difficult time of the year.
That the city feels compelled to use precious resources on maximizing erosion in my neighborhood reminds me of the 70 yr old man-child that I passed on a walk several weeks back, who found a snake on the path and asked me if I could help him find a brick to hit it with. Why? He just didn’t like snakes! My well-intentioned comments about the snake’s value in an urban food web could not compete with what this little boy saw as the only logical course of action: smash it with a brick! Even drastic budget cuts could not sway the city from giving the hill a yearly shave.
It astonishes me that the native vegetation has grown back every single year. But it is a great thing, since these plants are perfectly designed to minimize erosion with no outside resources. This humble vegetation also provides a location and refreshments for a great raucous bird party each spring. For a several years, a while back, many happy bird couples even nested in the street trees, despite speeding traffic just feet away.
Let this rainy season’s story unfold. May there be another raucous party this spring.