Thank you, Canada, for sending us this holiday gift of cold and snow and gale-force winds -- you really shouldn't have. We've got a foot of snow in Murietta, hundreds of people stuck in their cars in the mountains, closed roads, flipped big rigs, and at the coast, wind gusts clocking in at 70 mph.
Here, just before being blown over (no kidding) are a few pix from Zuma Beach. The little cottage is rocking, a loose tarp on a nearby hill sounds like a cannon, and every few minutes the electricity flickers off. A memorable close to 2014.
Well, no rain yet. (Forecasters say maybe some showers tonight. Fingers crossed.) What really matters to our drought-blasted state is Sierra snowpack, so here's hoping predictions of winter storms in the mountains this week come true.
Meanwhile, some dark-sky drama here at the coast:
Chilly the last few mornings, and very still. Here's a hawk we saw, fluffed up and waiting, for the sun to rise, for the air to warm, for a breeze to ride, a thermal to help him glide skyward.
Green lawns in winter?
Snow on the mountains that we can see from our flower-decked porches?
Check and check.
Merry Christmas from California!
Skies here have been spectacular the last few nights, the light and colors so intense that even though you know there's no way the camera can catch it, you keep taking the same photo over and over again.
It's the solstice today at 3:03 p.m., the first day of winter. (And, logically, the true new year.) And because it was pretty spectacular, here's the final sunset of fall last night, which seems to have wowed much of Los Angeles. Also, the WashPost's nice 5-solstice-questions blog post.
At dusk last night Walt went a little nuts, pacing the deck and growling. Since he had ignored the beautiful sunset two nights ago:
I knew this one had nothing to do with his mood.
And then, on the ridge above us, something moved. Walt growled. Too dark for anything but a crummy photo from the point-and-shoot but still, look close, right there in the center of the frame. See the coyote ears?
Amid the patchy rain this morning, a glimpse of blue:
The wet birds were happy:
Oh -- and you know those spray painted signs near city drains and gutters saying everything in the streets drains into the sea?
Here's the creek two days before the storm:
And here it is after:
A slow build with this storm, low clouds edging in all night long. Thick mist at daybreak, just a few fat drops falling.
The wildlife here is waiting, crows hunched on telephone wires, hummingbirds hidden, great drifts of pelicans high above, sailing, a steady breeze up there, not a wing beat, not once.
To the north of us PCH is closed. To the south you hear the Zuma surf. At my feet, wet dogs. (Yes, fragrant.) And just now, right now, the real rain.
No, this awful drought isn't over but for today at least, it's not getting worse.
It's easy enough to see what keeps visitors from walking on the supposedly public pier in Paradise Cove:
But what about the seagulls and pelicans the sign jokingly refers to?
Take a closer look and you'll see the network of fishing filament, all but invisible, that runs the length and, in places, crosses the width of the pier.
You don't need the occasional clump of bloody feathers on the pier's wood planks to realize that for sea birds seeking a place to rest, it's a potential death trap.