“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
~ Charles Dickens
February has come and gone with a leap and a bound. March arrived without a roar or raindrop. Unlike the saying, “March came in like a lion and out like a lamb,” sunshine prevailed. A rain-drenched lion (a mountain lion in our case) would be welcomed in our backyard if it proclaimed the return of the El Niño-driven storms. Most fear the possibility of another year of drought. Last year’s 2014-15 rain season total was 10.88 inches; thus far 2015-16 has reached 12.60 inches. The season ends June 30. Aside from the hard core statistics indicating drought conditions, its visible evidence is wide spread across the foothills.
Exactly 20 years ago, a young couple and their two young sons built a house in the foothills of La Crescenta. Even then, a level vacant lot was no easy find. Not only did the husband find one, he visualized the potential in spite of an old and very rundown vacant cinder block abandoned house on the property. The wife was a hard sell, as she couldn’t get past the weeds and depressing condition; the interior and garage were filled to the rafters with trash. She was so focused on this she almost missed the property’s oldest and most valuable asset. There standing in full view was a majestic Deodar cedar with branches spanning over much of the old yard. Thankfully a “John Muir moment” struck and the bulldozers headed up the hill. The old house came down, but the tree remained … now shading a new home.
Sue’s tree is feeling poorly of late. With needles continuing to drop, its foliage is looking sparse – a sad sight to behold. Many of our birch trees have succumbed due to lack of water. We feared the same for the 100-year-old Deodar. Time to call the tree doctor (i.e. arborist). The diagnosis and, most importantly, the cure proved encouraging. The evergreen is presenting drought stress symptoms, but is not dying. A simple cure was prescribed – water. If not rain, a soaker hose around the tree’s drip line or outer canopy can provide the much-needed drink. I’m willing to give up lawn, shrubs and flowers, but not my tree.
The upcoming weather looks promising. Rain is forecast Saturday night and into next week as two storm systems move through. Rain totals? Maybe two inches or more.
Hopefully the “El Niño hose” will once again be turned on.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.