Change of Season, Change of Perspective
By Tim Johnson
The first real rain of the season brought more than much needed moisture. It brought a change of perspective.
I could see it immediately in the faces of the farmers I saw this week. The ever-present optimism on their faces had been heavily lined with worry of another dry year these past months. The rain softened not only the hard dry ground but also their countenance. Not only did it rain, but it looks like it will keep raining.
The rain also immediately perked up the landscape. Grass began to grow on the foothills and the flocks of shorebirds and ducks in the valley seemed to fly just a bit faster.
The rain could not have come at a better time for them. Early migrants like yellow legs, curlews and white-fronted geese had been holding on the few flooded rice acres and the limited habitat on the refuges.
The promise of rain means that we will be able to flood more rice acres this winter. Estimates now range up to 100,000 acres, as water becomes available for winter flooding. This is especially important early in the season not only for habitat but also to keep the birds healthy. Confined conditions encourage avian influenza and botulism both deadly for waterbirds.
I knew that things really had changed on my afternoon drive home, heading east out of Sacramento toward the foothills. The sky was clear and the air had the first crisp snap of fall. At first, I didn’t really see what was on the horizon. After so many long months of seeing the same blue¬–brown of the Sierra Crest, I suddenly realized those were snow–covered peaks in the distance!
The dusty, grinding dry weather had finally abated. It was fall and there was rain – even snow. I smiled. My perspective had changed!