Last night, I climbed in bed early, to cuddle my smallest who had been woken, time and again, by great crashes of thunder. He had had quite enough thunder, in his opinion. It was one of those black-as-tar nights, except when the windows lit up, every 10 minutes or so, with cracks of huge white light. Like the gods were playing on/off with a giant celestial light switch.
I could hear the rain thrumming against the house, and pouring through the rainspouts, but more than that, I could hear water rushing past the house, surrounding us in all directions. Down the steps, down the drive, in the gullies and the ravine. It sounded like we were on an island in the middle of a raging torrent - not the most common sound for a California hillside. My son and I fell asleep to the sound of swollen rivers rushing past.
By morning the storm had moved on, and the world sparkled, damply but unflooded. So it wasn't until I got a call about the Wildlife festival this afternoon that I realized I needed to think about creeks.
I have a date tomorrow morning at 10 am. I was meeting two troops worth of Girl Scouts to lead them on a Creek Clean-up. Girl Scouts are good for local creeks. We were heading down to this lovely bit of beach downstream of town, which had been thoroughly covered in trash washed down from the commercial district. Coffee cups, plastic bags, golf balls, detritus of all sorts and sizes. Perfect for small girls to jump around with gloves on and do good unto their world.
But I did get that call about the Wildlife Festival, and as we chatted pond turtles and mountain lions and tree frogs, my colleague mentioned that the creek would likely be off limits, given how swollen it is. "But it's fine" I answered, surprised. "I was there on Tuesday, and it looked beautiful." "The water district doesn't want us near it, till the swelling goes down," she answered.
Oh. It rained last night. A lot.
One hour, one extremely muddy son, 1/2 a water-filled rainboot from fording a small stream, and one trip to the beach later, I realized she was right. Overnight, the creek had doubled, and where clear clean water had rushed past mounds of trash scattered amongst willows over a sand bar on Tuesday, now brown foaming mud poured through banks washed clean and willows submerged. The litter has moved on, and the Girl Scouts will have the morning off.
Now if only my sons could be convinced to let me sleep in.