Los Angeles Times
Rain all around— but not here
Lightning! Thunder! Rain that sounds like a drum circle.
But only in notes coming frommy Fresno home, work mother ship in L. A. and friends in the Coachella Valley.
Not here or anywhere we’ve been.
But I did talk to a Hollister rancher who said he’d had more rain in July than January.
“Not one single drop in January,” Mike Bernal said.
There had been some lightning that morning and the air was heavy, hot and humid— but no rain.
And if rain did come, it would be bad timing. Strawberries would go moldy. Hay still in fields would be half the price. Still— rain. One of my first journalism jobs was at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, where on average there are about 10 rainy days a year. We once had a reader feedback meeting during which awoman complained thatwe had labeled a rainy day “bad” weather.
At the time I thought it was funny. Now, I agree. We’re off to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. My weather map shows a big yellow sun and100 degrees.
We sat on a San Juan Bautista patio where two Mexican troubadours were playing beautiful, yearning songs.
“Do you knowany songs about rain?” Rob asked Álvaro Gonzales and Miguel Alvarez.
“Oh yes!” Álvaro said. I found out later that hewas delighted because it had been so long since they’d played one of their favorite songs.
“When it comes to music and my culture, peoplewant songs that make them forget. They don’t want songs that make them think about the drought,” he said, joining me for a cup of hot tea on their break.
“It’s very sad to see the rivers dry. They closed the lake to the public a couple of weeks ago and itwas a very important place of recreation to people,” Álvaro said.
Lake Nacimiento, a reservoir about100 miles to the south, is 25% full.
There had been a wedding party on the hotel patio the night before. A multi-generational family was slowly tumbling out for breakfast and chatting.
Katie Cerna, 4, went to the fountain to play.
“Look at that!” Álvaro said. “That’s what water is about. Children are naturally called to it. When people go out on a Sunday around here, they go to the lake.”
Went to the lake. “I thank goodness we still have music,” he said. “It’s one of the few things not affected by this drought.”
Hepa used and watched Katie awhile. He seemed upset.
“You know,” he said. “Music is affected. This is an agricultural area. Without water there won’t be jobs. When people don’t have money, parties and celebrations won’t be a priority.
“And that’s when this drought will even affect our souls and spirits.”
The song Álvaro and Miguel played was a traditional huapango called “La Espiga.”
Hesaid it’s about us being at the mercy of the naturalworld: El agua ignor a la sed El sol no sabe que alumbra
( Water ignores thirst The sun doesn’t know that it burns.)