Mountain Musings

Grateful for the rain we’ve received, but know we need more

Special to The CambrianFebruary 13, 2014 

Recent rains mean a trip to the auction yard will be put off for many local cattle, who will shortly have at least some grass on which to graze.


In these Santa Lucia Mountains, the backcountry of Cambria and San Simeon, this is the time of year mountainfolk like to compare notes on rain totals.

“How much rain did you get?” we ask when passing each other on the road, or via email, or over the phone.

It’s not unusual to discover substantial differences depending on elevation and location. Even properties a quarter-mile apart can register various totals. To check out each other’s amounts of rain has always been a source of entertainment of sorts. Who got the most or least rain seemed to have been more than a topic of conversation, it’s been almost a friendly competition, though we applaud everyone’s results, especially this year! A rainy day is cause for celebration, not to mention a cast iron pot of hearty stew bubbling on top of the woodstove, a steamy mug of hot chocolate, and a good book.

Organized rain dances and prayers for precipitation have been the subject of many people’s social media posting for months now. And, what do you know? Even when the experts said it wasn’t likely to happen, we got some showers. So, for those of us who believe in the power of sincere heavenly appeals, we throw our heads back and our hands up, while we twirl around, give thanks and rejoice.

Yes, we know that we’re not out of the drought. We understand we’re in a pickle.

Nevertheless, the smell of saturated soil delights us. The sight of runoff pleases us. The sound of grass growing (seriously, some of us hear the enthusiastic cheers of thirsty shoots) is music to our ears. Not only that, all of these pleasures allows us to release some tension and take deep breaths for a while.

It’s not until our bodies relax a bit do we realize how tightly we’ve been wrapped all these months. The feeling of impending doom may not have gone away completely, but for now we revel in some emotional relief, higher hopes and renewed faith. Consequently, our well-being has taken a turn for the better.

Again, we know we’re far from out of the danger zone, and we continue our extreme conservation practices. Still, recent rains have brought with it a much-needed respite from the absolute anguish that has loomed over us. For that we are grateful.

Michele Oksen’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email the resident of Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range at

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