While Southern California is on fire right now, our little island looks relatively green and healthy. Looks being the operative word here because the effects of the drought have been stealthy in our little neighborhood. We had a good winter here in the Bay Area with near average rainfall, so everyone was breathing sighs of relief until this summer. We’ve all gotten used to brown lawns and rock gardens, but the loss of two trees on our block is a reminder that California is still suffering from years of below-average rainfall.
The first to go was a magnificent oak in back of the house three doors down. Oaks are protected in Alameda, so removal was done with bureaucracy, noise, and surprising speed. After years of drought, the roots had become too shallow to sustain such a large tree, and at least three houses were in danger. We endured two or three days of chainsaw noise and confused squirrels, but then things settled down. The neighbors purchased some large table umbrellas to provide the shade they no longer have while squirrel territory is still under negotiation.
The second surprise happened right next door when our neighbor was awakened by a thump on his roof that he attributed to a raccoon or possum. The next morning he discovered his fir tree leaning on his house after the trunk split in half. Fortunately, the thump was so gentle (relatively speaking) that his house sustained damage only to the gutters, but once again the chain saws, chippers, debris, and confused critters appeared on our street.
We’re getting used to seeing sunshine where there once was shade, but I guess I’ll keep taking navy showers. Le sigh.