“The shed of leaves became a cascade of red and gold and after a time
the trees stood skeletal against the sky of weathered tin…
The nights lengthened, went darker, brightened in their clustered stars.
The chilled air smelled of wood smoke, of distances and passing time.”
~ James Carlos Blake, American writer of historical fiction
Last weekend’s weather continued into this week with gusty winds lasting over several days. These were not the typical variety, continuously blowing, but of an erratic nature – like a race car going from 0 to 60 mph within seconds. Then it was calm, without a single leaf moving, between the strong gusts. A roaring sound announced their impending arrival from the canyons. Typical of Santa Anas, temperatures climbed beyond 80 degrees.
By Monday, winds diminished and a storm moved up from Baja bringing .04 inches of rain. Being tropical in nature, it didn’t resemble a January storm that originates in Canada and Alaska.
The words “normal” and “average” do not describe the winter of 2015. Even the crickets are baffled. While out walking Abby, their chirpings were reminiscent of a summer evening. All the while the east coast was getting buried by a “historic” blizzard. Imagine coastal flooding and wind-driven snow at the same time and place! Brrr…
In spite of several strong wind events, shriveled brown leaves still cling to trees throughout the foothills. As spring arrives, will these same deciduous trees sprout new green leaves or stand bare, victims of drought? It is not an easy life for a tree living on the rock-based slopes of our valley. Rocky soils are often too alkaline, lack nutrients, and don’t retain water. Now add a three-year drought, and our trees need TLC – and water is key.
First, check the tree for life. Do the twigs bend but not snap? Is the tissue under the bark still green? If yes, here are a few water-conservation minded tips to maintain the most valuable landscape asset – a shade tree.
• Go native!
• Mulch 6” out from trunk. Avoid rock and stone around base.
• Don’t fertilize during drought.
• Prune to clear dead wood.
• Long, slow and deep watering 9” from trunk monthly. Soaker hoses are ideal.
As you turn on the water, remember healthy trees help maintain local water supply. A mature tree’s canopy and root system can capture thousands of gallons of rainwater, which in turn sinks into the aquifer or groundwater.
Rain? Not much, even as clouds move in. Clear, breezy and warm conditions quickly resume into next week. The NWS added to its forecast, “For those people who like Fantasy Land forecasts, 10 day forecasts show a rain system setting up.”
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.