Distant storms and childhood drought memories

This week my sister and I wandered around the produce section of Safeway. Not far off in the distance, somewhere near Brussels sprouts, I heard the rumble of the automated misters.
This is now my most recent memory of thunderstorms.
Today, if there is even a hint of rain on the horizon, it’s news.
A few weeks ago, I woke up early and saw a few raindrops on rose leaves. I grabbed my phone to take a video. By the time I reached the office, another reporter had also posted a video.
Sadly, those raindrops weren’t steady enough to shake the grime from our car windshields.
Silly me. In my premature glee, I brought my raincoat to work. There was no additional rain, but I found ten bucks in the pocket.
Laura and I were lamenting at work about the drought, and the myriad of stories we could/should write. How about saving water in the home, to be good stewards of the resource?
My co-worker said she always saves water that runs in her sink, and hauls it outdoors to water plants.
Her long-time good stewardship made me feel pretty darn guilty. As a good child of the ’70s, I am trained to turn off the water when brushing my teeth. Yet, I wait for the water to warm before washing my face.
When I take a shower I usually get through all of the verses of whatever song I’m singing. If I’m having a particularly soulful time, I’ll sing and linger longer.
Laura must be a better person.
Perhaps my New Year’s fitness resolution could include an exercise regime of washing dishes, and carting the extra water outdoors. How many Belgium chocolate bars could I eat if I hauled away the water from a shower?
Maybe if I someday buy a house, I’ll plunk down some money for a gray-water system. Then I can sing in the shower and be as good of a person as Laura.

Drought for all seasons
San Jose Mercury News reporter Paul Rogers recently wrote about the “ridiculously resilient ridge” of high pressure off the West Coast. The RRR is holding back rainfall. (Read the story here: http://goo.gl/7R1Rb6).
More locally, there are stories about people who rely on water to earn their living and fish eggs dying on the edge of shrinking river beds.
So what can one urban person do, even if it doesn’t seem like much?
Pretty much, we can revert back to the mid 1970s, minus the large lapels and muscle cars.
In our gardens, we can let the lawns die. Do we use them for recreation? No. Most of us never play croquet and our kids are inside playing video games.
For spring gardening projects, we can dig up the dead lawn and plant a giant mound of bark. For flowers, how about drought-resistant lavender, yarrow, sage and any plant with “Mojave” in its name.
Bob Scoville at Glenn County Master Gardeners recently said he measured his drip irrigation system. He did some math and calculated the needs of the plant vs. what was dripping out. He was surprised he had been watering too much.
Laying on more mulch is also a good way to help plants retain the smaller volumes of water we might deliver.
Another math tip from eartheasy, Solutions for Sustainable Living, http://goo.gl/zrBK6v, recommends checking your water meter before leaving the home for a few hours.
If you return and see that water has been used, you probably have a leak. Either that or neighborhood children have borrowed your hose to build a slip-and-slide.
For indoor water saving, the above website recommends insulating your pipes so hot water arrives faster. The authors didn’t say it outright, but they discourage long, soulful singing in the shower.
Should we do all these things? When in doubt, just think “what would Laura do?”

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