I’ve been chronicling my project with my wife on this blog. I’m going to write a sonnet series about the creation of California. I’m trying to tell the story of water in California, what really made it what it is. Ann’s a visual artist, so she’s going to do the graphic art work for it.
Last week I talked about moving away from looking at water in California as a purely historical force. It remains a force. The thing about it is that Californians and the state have a strange relationship with water. It’s a force of life of course, but it also is a force of destruction.
One of my early memories of water, when I first moved to the state was during an El Nino year. When the streets flooded, some students at USC got boogie boards and rode the flood straight down one of the major streets. And when the city leaders declare that a storm off coast will cause dangerously high waves, surfers take that as a call to action. Sometimes we’ll go down to the beach as well to watch elite athletes at the top of their game doing what they do for the love of their sport. After all, no one pays them to go out into that chaos.
There’s something fascinating to us about the destructive force of water probably because we see it so rarely. The same goes for earthquakes. After an earthquake, there’s always a kind of holiday mood across the city as everyone talks about what the shaking felt like.
I don’t know exactly why we act like this with our natural forces of destruction. Maybe it’s because we live so closely with these forces all the time. If the rain doesn’t get us in January, then the earthquakes or the traffic will. I don’t know whether the rest of the world has this same sensibility, but my guess is that it doesn’t.
When this drought ends, my guess is that it will happen in one long month of weather straight out of Revelation. And my guess is that my friends and I will greet it with a party.