Pixel Tracker

Friday, March 22 , 2019, 1:37 pm | A Few Clouds 60º

 
 
 
 

Karen Telleen-Lawton: Welcome Rain Returns to Rattlesnake Creek

Most of all, it’s the sound I missed. Rain plucking into ponds, tumbling over rocks, sheering past rushes and reeds, and spritzing into eddies.

For the past year or two, I never witnessed Rattlesnake Creek actually flow. The water table is so low that it has taken 8 inches of seasonal rain, measured at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s RAWS (Remote Automatic Weather Station) east of Mission Canyon, for the creek to finally connect the dots between puddles and ponds. Countywide, we have received 135 percent of the average rainfall to date, but the reservoirs are still under 10 percent capacity.

During the string of storms, I’ve been visiting my favorite trail almost daily. I hike up the muddy path to watch the transformation. Despite the echoes from my mother, I tromp right through the puddles to avoid widening the path and thus my impact on the habitat.

In nondrought periods, I have heard the creek from a long distance away following a substantial winter storm.

That’s not happening yet, but the sounds I hear first are what seem like joyful shouts from the birds. The Northern Flicker’s insistent wik-wik-wik accosts me as a pair announce the treasure trove of water. Scrub jays and crows dart across the canyon. On both sides of the trail, the rock rose shrubs jiggle with the activity of juncos and California towhees.

With nature showing its force, the trail itself has transformed as well. Flat boulders are pocked with puddles perfectly sized for bird baths. Old dirt road sections predating recreational use bear rivulets of water, mud and sand.

Recent storms have brought much-needed rain to drought-stricken Rattlesnake Creek.
Recent storms have brought much-needed rain to drought-stricken Rattlesnake Creek. (Karen Telleen-Lawton / Noozhawk photo)

A small rockslide blocks my way just before the first creek crossing. A boulder the size of a small dishwasher has pierced the path, a reminder of the powerful surprises of getting outdoors. I manage to heist myself over it, wishing I had the strength to move it before ant-armies of hikers inadvertently widen the trail around the obstruction. We love our trails to death.

Moving through heavy fog, I enjoy the sensation of walking through a cloud. An increasingly wet cloud. My jacket is now sloughing off sprinkles turning to showers, but I am not anxious to go. With no one else on the trail, I’m enjoying being a voyeur to all the little live things that make Rattlesnake Canyon their home.

I find myself inside Robert Frost’s poem, "Walking Through the Woods On a Snowy Evening," living his words California-style:

Whose woods these are is very clear:
The birds, the plants themselves, the deer.
They may watch me with disdain,
Stopping by to see the rain.

The little wren must think it odd
To stop when others flee the flood
Between the cliffs and trickling creek
The darkest morning: but not bleak.

He gives his dark feathers a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only sound is the refrain
Of easy wind and sprinkling rain.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Enjoy the rain!

— Karen Telleen-Lawton’s column is a mélange of observations spanning sustainability from the environment to finance, economics and justice issues. She is a fee-only financial advisor (www.DecisivePath.com) and a freelance writer (www.CanyonVoices.com). Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.