January 1982 II

“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” So is much of the forest that formerly limited the view from here. Much of it is likely on the beaches around Santa Cruz by now. Even a minor flood can do wonders in regard to vegetation abatement.

A bit of rain is expected to continue through much of tomorrow, but it is not expected to be as torrential as it had been. Sporadic rain showers are expected on Wednesday. Otherwise, the weather should be mostly clear and dry. Perhaps the ground below all that pleasant weather will manage to drain a bit before rain resumes.

So far, this winter has not been as destructive as the winter of 1982. It has potential to worsen though. A few vehicles have been squashed by fallen trees near here. A few homes have been ruined elsewhere in the region. We have seen patio furniture and a few pieces of decking float by in Zayante Creek below the confluence with Bean Creek, but have not yet noticed any debris that obviously originated from houses. Plastic debris that remains on the scoured banks includes coolers, trash bins, basketballs, volleyballs, and an odd preponderance of jugs of liquid laundry detergent. With the exception of the laundry detergent, these items are easily claimed by the creeks from backyards.

Not only is this weather difficult for those who already lack shelter, but it also deprives a few more of their established shelter when it is most important. It was discouraging to see so many camping in their cars within the parking lot at Felton Faire while Felton Grove was evacuated. Even though everyone returned to their homes after the flood receded, it could not have been easy. Furthermore, a few of our excellent Community are not so fortunate.

More Than Shelter

Starting coffee for the crew in the morning is a mundane task, after opening the gates and turning the heater on in our meeting room. Even after the heater has been off for a night of cold weather, the meeting room and adjoining galley are not too uncomfortably cold by morning. I do not give much thought to the unusually rainy weather right outside. After all, the rain is outside, and I am inside with coffee and a heater.

There is not much view from the window in the galley. The yard below is storage for several dumpsters. It is surrounded by a fence and the Memorial Grove. A busy road and associated bridge over Zayante Creek are just beyond that.

Since New Year’s Eve, some of us have been watching Zayante Creek from the window in the galley. The water is normally barely visible. Because of the storms, it had risen to within only a few feet of the yard downstairs on a few occasions. It will likely be about that high again by morning.

The bridge is prominent within the center of the view from the window. Under its closest corner, on this side of the road and on this side of Zayante Creek, I can see a site that had sometimes been inhabited by unhoused neighbors. It would be very unpleasant to be out there now, in the cold and damp weather, and also dangerous as Zayante Creek rises again overnight. It is very muddy there after getting submerged earlier.

I do not consider that much though. Instead, I remember how homey it was when friends lived there. Although it was not as comfortable as where I now observe it from, to more than a mere few, it was more comfortable than being out in the rain. Furthermore, it was where some people really lived, even if merely temporarily. They did much of what people do in homes, as if homes were unnecessary luxuries. Although I do not party like most, I attended a few celebrations there. I directly witnessed the extreme generosity and graciousness of others of society who had no business under such a bridge. Regardless of how pleased I am that almost everyone who had been unhoused back then presently resides within comfortable and stable domestic situations, I also miss some of how it was in what now seems to be history.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The first day of it was certainly better than the last day of last year. It was so clear and sunny, and completely opposite of the torrential rain of the day earlier. The San Lorenzo River and Zayante Creek flowed at normal levels, without indication that they flooded less than a day ago.

Earlier flooding and mudslides were reminders of the potential for instability of stable domestic situations. Most homes within Felton Grove are elevated above such floods, but were evacuated nonetheless. Vehicles there needed to be parked elsewhere. A few roads nearby were blocked by erosion or fallen trees.

More storms are predicted for next week. Now that so much soil is becoming saturated, such storms could contribute to more erosion, mudslides and fallen trees, particularly in conjunction with wind. Additional flooding could also be possible.

Even if familiarity with the risks associated with living here is no deterrent, it makes such risks no easier. Evacuation is difficult. Flood damage or worse is even more difficult.

In some ways, such difficulties are more difficult for a few of those with more stability than for those with less. After all, such difficulties are much more likely to cause more substantial loss for those with more to lose.

Those who lack stable domestic situations may be very inconvenienced by severe weather and flooding, but they are somewhat inconvenienced regardless of the weather. Although most who reside within stable domestic situations are not even slightly inconvenienced by severe weather, a few may be severely inconvenienced, and some even lose their home entirely. It is how some people become unhoused!

Stability is generally preferable to instability. It is never absolute though. We all assume risks associated with living here, and do our best with what we have to work with.

Winter Continues

Winter should continue for more than a month and a half. It certainly does not seem like that now. Weather has been so pleasant and dry for so long, with no rain in the forecast.

Such weather has both advantages and disadvantages for the ecosystem here. It inhibits proliferation of vegetation that provides fuel for the following fire season. However, it also accelerates the desiccation of the minimal vegetation that develops, which advances the onset of the fire season. Regardless of the fire season, much of the native vegetation will be distressed by inadequate moisture if significantly more rain does not develop prior to the end of the rainy season.

This weather also has distinct advantages and disadvantages for those who lack shelter. Rain is obviously unpleasant for those who lack a roof, so a lack of rain has certain appeal. However, the weather gets much cooler at night during dry weather, which is quite unpleasant for those who lack warmth and insulating walls.

Although fewer people lack shelter here nowadays, and although the climate is relatively mild here, it is difficult to not worry about those who must contend with unpleasantly wintry weather for the next month and a half.

Fortunately, the pandemic that the rest of the World has been so concerned about has not been a very serious problem for the local homeless Community. However, common cold and flu viruses have been circulating at a normal rate. Such illnesses are difficult for anyone afflicted by one, but are even more so for those lacking shelter and the ability to be warm and comfortable during recovery.

Some who currently lack shelter here will likely procure domestic situations within the next few months. Such possibilities may not seem like much help now, but they are cause for pleasant anticipation.

Winter 2021

Autumn will capitulate to winter in about two weeks. December 21 will be both the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year. After a month without rain and only slowly cooling temperatures, the weather will continue to cool and likely get cold at times, with significantly more rain, as the days slowly lengthen. A bit of rain is possible after midnight tonight, with more rain possible after Saturday. It is unlikely that winter will be as mild and dry as autumn has been until now.

Winter is a necessary season in nature, and allows the Southern Hemisphere to get a turn with summer. Many of us enjoy the cool weather, rain and change in scenery as deciduous trees defoliate. Unfortunately though, cool weather and rain are uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for those who lack shelter.

It is difficult to exclude rain and retain warmth without roofs and walls. It is difficult to recover from illness without a warm and dry situation. Our Community is so very fortunate that so few remain unsheltered nowadays, especially after so many lost homes to the CZU Fire two summers ago.

Winter can be somewhat difficult for those who inhabit homes as well. It is the time of year that leaks in roofs are discovered and need to be repaired. The cost of fuel or electricity for heating increases, especially for those who lack the option of burning wood for heat. Even those who use only wood for heat must have purchased it at one time or another. Evacuation below the CZU Fire burn area may be necessary prior to heavy rain. 

It will not last forever. We know that it can be uncomfortable, difficult and expensive, but it is only one of four seasons. Spring begins in three and a half months.

Summer House

Because so much of my work is online, I can do it anywhere. Therefore, for the past many years, I have considered the acquisition of a so-called ‘summer house’ in another region, where I can live for parts of the year when I do not need to be here. Of course, and contrary to the seasonal designation, I would be more likely to go there during autumn or early winter rather than during the busy summer season. Such acquisition has always been delayed by local obligations, as well as other unrelated travel. There is no need to work remotely when I already work remotely.

Nonetheless, the investigation of real estate in other regions has been interesting. Although many of the properties that appealed to me were very small and isolated homes in (horrid) desert regions (because such regions lack vegetation that is so distracting to horticulturists like me), some of the properties could have been useful for other purposes. Several were more ‘normal’ homes that could be inhabited by a few people. A few were quite large buildings that could have been subdivided into a few or even several apartments. Such apartments could have provided homes for any or all of the unhoused residents of Felton who would not mind relocation, even if merely temporarily.

For example, I investigated an abandoned Methodist Church that was about as big as a large apartment building. It could have been divided into a several studios. I only desired a single small studio within the building. There was also an industrial building that was much larger, with seven floors that could have been divided into two spacious apartments each. Real estate listings make it seem so simple.

Sadly, it is not so simple. Renovation of such buildings is expensive. So is maintenance. Furthermore, the properties that I investigated were not local. They were nowhere close to such. Anyone who chose to relocate to them would be a very long way from home until he or she were able to return, if returning were even an option. It would be easier to merely not leave. For most of us, it would be better to be homeless at home than stranded in a home away from home.

No Rain

January 22 is the date of the last locally recorded rainfall. That was three and a half weeks ago. There is only about a %25 chance of rain predicted for next Sunday, a week from today. That does not seem too promising. The probability for rain might decrease just as easily as it might increase. Even if it does not change, there is a %75 chance that there will be no rain next week.

Also, temperatures have been unseasonably mild lately, with no more frost expected for the season. In fact, temperatures are not expected to drop below the mid 40s at night anytime soon. Daytime temperatures are expected to be in the upper 60s. Although it would be unrealistic to expect this weather to continue through this last month of winter, it sure feels like spring now.

Flora in the region is expressing its appreciation for, or confusion from, such excellent weather. Acacia dealbata is in full bloom, implying that stone fruit trees will bloom soon too. Apples and pears bloom shortly afterward. Unfortunately, resumption of wintry weather could ruin early bloom and fruit set. There are risks and consequences associates with such delightful weather.

The lack of rain necessitates irrigation of lawns, landscapes and gardens, which is more work for those of us who live in homes. For those of us who lack homes, the same lack of rain negates the need for waterproof shelter. Mild temperatures that are comfortable for those who lack a home to heat at night are potentially detrimental to the fruit that others grow in their gardens.

No one can change the weather. It would be futile to complain abut it. Those of us who can benefit from it should appreciate it while we can. We know that winter is not done yet.