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January's Welcomed Guest

Dev Rainny Day
Devereux Slough - January 23, 2008

Some think of winter time as a time of sleep, a place of hibernation where you stay warm and cozy inside a sleepy cacoon, awaiting for the cold and storms to subside. But in my neck of the woods it is full of many busy bright clear days. Yes, storms roll through but they clear out the haze, the filtering mist that fills the sky and captures and slows the light in it's little drops. Now rain is a different story than mist.

Devereux Creek on a Rainy Day
Devereux Creek empties into Devereux Slough - January 23, 2008

It brings it's gifts. This January the rain stopped by long enough to bring it's gift of vital renewing water and then left to let it all soak in. Then returned to a grateful host. It was like a good guest knowing just how long to stay for the party. A guest, a beloved friend whose presence was happily anticipated and was greeted with delight. A friend who leaves giving much more than they took. Ah, Rain, leaving the fields green, the soil sweetened, the air clear and the mountain streams awakened.

Birds do not all fly away for the winter here. Instead birders come for bird counts in the winter. Ducks continue to arrive. Eagles can be seen chasing through the sky at Lake Cachuma at the annual Eagle count. Vernal pools fill to invite the local water fowl. Dry lowlands fill up like special glasses and containers that have been waiting in the cabinet for that special visitor to come.

Eagle at Lake Cachuma
Immature Bald Eagle at Lake Cachuma - January 2008

Storke Ranch Vernal Pool
Storke Ranch Vernal Pool - January 7, 2008

Yes, the winter is a slow time in the garden. John skips some Tuesday markets to fit the pace of the slowing harvest, you can't sell the faster growing grass. A few rainy days are spent inside, but a rain coat and pants with spaces between the squalls still keep John in the garden. Winter in Santa Barbara has plenty to do in the garden and a little slowing of the pace at work leaves some energy for the winter waves fun. There were a number of good swells this January causing me to feel torn between desires. When the waves are good there is the choice between dramatic photos or long gliders.

John at Devereux
John Bowdish at Devereux Slough - January 11, 2008

Campus Point
Campus Point January 5, 2008

I try to fit it all in but sometimes, sigh, some things have to be dropped. Drop the camera, the board, or the binoculars. Then there is the paying job. January can be a time for many decisions. John orders seeds, deciding to plant something different or not to grow an underperforming crop. In the winter it is so nice knowing there is water flowing into the reservoir to water the plants to be harvested in the spring and summer.

Glassy day at Devereux Slough
Devereux Slough - January 19, 2008

Devereux Slough shows it's changes in the most dramatic way in the winter. January is a common time for the rains and waves to cause a shallow broad reflection pool to turn to a stream that flows to the sea. Waves sneak their way in from the sea as the high tide washes salt water into the low flat slough. And when the water has rushed out to sea there is a mud flat and driftwood where before there was water. A little stream of draining water replaces the glassy shallow pool, until the next deluge or the storms subside and sand builds up to block the flow to the sea.

Devereux Slough driftwood and mud
Devereux Slough - January 27, 2008

A very empty Devereux Slough
Devereux Slough - January 31, 2008

It's only early February and things are starting to bloom. The willow trees and the lemonade-berry plants are flowering. The native plants here have adapted to winters with rain and infrequent dry winters. I breath a sigh of relief that there is the replenishing rain for them this season. Chaparral types of plant communities in the mountains, and along the shore have adapted to dry summers with their rare rains. Too many years of dry winters , like last year, is tough on the mediterranean plants that depend on some winter rains. It is like a pay check that arrived on time. Rain is like savings to the plants. We can only last so long on savings between paychecks, and the plants can only last so long between rains. Similarly we can only be happy so long between visits from friends. The mountains have a fluffy look to them from the new growth spurred on by the rains and I am already anticipating the white sprinkling of color when the Ceanothus blooms at the change between winter and spring.

This January received a very welcomed guest, leaving with it the friendly feeling that comes with a timely visit. A visit from the rain is like a visit from a friend bringing the spring of happiness, the flowering of our joy and the fruit of our endeavors.

Deverux Slough looking toward the Gaviota Coasst
Devereux Slough Flows to Sea - January 24, 2008

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Callie's e-mail: cjbowdish@hotmail.com