There’s a story often told about the Eskimos. In the dead of winter, when out hunting caribou, hunters plant blood-covered knives blade up in the snow around their camp at night. The blood on the knives attracts wolves who, rather than attack the camp as they would have, lick the blades excitedly, thus cutting their tongues. The wolves are so excited about the blood, however, that they ignore their pain and go on licking, not realizing that they’re drinking their own blood . . .
The truth is, this story isn’t true (Google it if you don’t believe me), but there’s a lot of truth in it — at least in parallel. I am thinking particularly of the drought in California.
Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I love being outdoors. I love spring and summer and fall and winter, and all of the variety that comes with them. That’s one reason I’ve always loved living in Northern California — we have all four seasons. Or . . . at least we did.
Since moving home from the humidity of Hong Kong a year and a half ago, I have seen fewer than ten of what I would call truly “rainy” days. A friend from Hong Kong visited me in August 2012, and her comment was, “So, it’s sunny EVERY day?” Yep. Yep, it is — at least in summer. But that hasn’t typically been the case in winter. I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. It gets cold here; it snows . . . At least it used to. The past two winters have been some of the driest in California history, and while the rest of the United States is locked in snow and ice, California is currently experiencing 70-degree temperatures. Sounds nice, right?
California’s reservoirs are drying up. It’s hills are kindling. It is one giant fire waiting to happen, and let’s not talk about our drinking water. My mom remembers bathing my brother and I in dirty water during a drought when we were babies. Do we think we’re beyond that happening again?
And that’s what slays me: The lack of concern I see from other Californians, and the envy I find in out-of-staters. Sure 70 degrees in January is nice (Lord knows it makes riding my bike easier), but at what cost? Everywhere near my apartment new houses are going up. Rich developers are putting in irrigation systems for landscaping along sidewalks and medians — an “aesthetic value.” What that amounts to, though, is thousands of gallons of water we don’t have being pumped into landscaping we don’t have to have. Have you ever seen a typical sprinkler system’s run-off?
And so here we are: Licking the wound that is bleeding us dry — and loving it. It’s a beautiful day. Yay! Does no one understand why each new sunny day makes me want to cry?
Images: Mine and Google