In early February, the Rev. George Tarleton sat next to me at a Board of Supervisors meeting and asked me about the weather.
Specifically, he asked if I thought it was too dry. Yes.
Then he said something about it being the driest winter he’s experienced since moving to the area many years ago.
During public comment, Tarleton said a prayer including special help with bringing needed moisture.
And then during the last meeting of the BOS for the month of February, he again sat next to me and asked about the weather. Yes, it is dry.
Once again during his near-regular prayer during the public comment period he asked for precipitation. A few supervisors nodded their heads in agreement.
Now, I’m not the weather-watcher that my husband is. He tries to be on top of things weather-wise. But I’m not so dense that I don’t notice when it’s raining or snowing. I like those once common events. I miss them.
But what really brought home the message of just how dry it is involved my little grandson and something that his mind grasped right off.
A few weeks ago we went to the lizard place. That’s 6-year-old and younger speak for the Snake Lake Bridge. The seasonal stream that runs down from Snake Lake was full and it was spilling right into Spanish Creek.
But when we arrived last weekend I was shocked at the change. It wasn’t the little stream of a few weeks earlier, but the one I remember from last June. It had shrunk in width, wasn’t as deep and instead of two channels of water running into Spanish Creek, it was down to one. And Spanish Creek itself was a lot lower.
“Look, grandma, this rock has gotten bigger!” Caden called to me from the middle of the stream. What he meant was the large dark rock that had been partially submerged in water did appear to be bigger because more of it was showing.
A few minutes later he discovered the side riverlet was gone. “Grandma, I used to jump over this when I was little,” he said as he jumped back and forth across the channel where water had run. (I guess he was littler two weeks ago.)
My grandson’s a talker and he’s Mr. Question Man. So, we had mini lessons on where the water went. “Did some kid dam it up with rocks?” They routinely do that at another location along Spanish Creek to create a better swimming hole.
“Did a beaver do it? Did somebody drink it all?”
Those are just a few of his questions that I can remember.
While asking things, he waded around in the smaller stream comparing where the water level was on his boots compared to what he remembered a few weeks earlier.
“Is it coming back?” I hope so. I wasn’t at all prepared for what we found. And of course Tarleton’s words and prayers came home to remind me that at least he was watching what was happening out there and attempting to do something about it in his own way.
Now that I’m focused on the weather — more so than the abstract notion that I know we need snowfall or rain at least — I started digging into records.
A glance at what was remaining of the current week, according to Plumas National Forest, which is the last week in February, the forecast is easy, no rain, with a 30 percent chance March 1 and March 2. That web site showed that in February we had 0.3 inches of rain. I must have missed it.
The annual average from 2010 to the present was 106.8 inches; the monthly average for the same time was 11.2 inches; the daily average was 0.4 inches; and the wettest day was Jan. 8, 2017, with 9.9 inches.
Please give us another Jan. 8, 2017, or make that a week of those kinds of days. Yes, I know that might equal flooding in parts of the county. Many of us, myself included, have been through at least one flood if not two since the 1980s. I’m not advocating for a flood. That’s a feast or famine situation.
While I’m on the subject of water and precipitation, since I cover the Board of Supervisors I’ve realized that I look at water as a commodity. It makes me angry that the state agreed to pay Plumas County $8 million in the Monterey Settlement years ago. We received half of the amount. The state officials wouldn’t be happy if we paid them only half of what’s owed.
I also found that I’ve become quite sensitive when it comes to water language. When I start reading material that promises drinking water for not just everyone in the state, but major populations beyond, I can’t help but be concerned about Plumas County’s best resource — our water.