Autumn has come to the Sacramento Valley. We had our first rain of the season last week, a welcome break from the heat and the smoke from the wildfires around the state.
Rain here also brings fog. Not the thick kind that comes in on little cat’s feet, then silently moves on, as Carl Sandburg wrote of fog along the coast. We get tule fog here—or anyway, we used to. Tule fog condenses close to the ground and doesn’t move much. It can make driving treacherous.
But it also can add a blessed sense of moisture to a dry landscape, especially early in the fall, when the land is parched and the rainy season is new.
It was on such a day that I went out to Conaway Ranch, in the heart of the Yolo Bypass, on a Yolo Art & Ag adventure. There, amid the levees and fields used for grain and I don’t know what, I found a marshy spot turned bright red with the season. Actual tules filled the lined the marsh, and, as the fog lifted, I saw birds overhead: egrets and herons and blackbirds and geese. I felt I’d stepped back in time, to a land before European settlers changed California. I kept expecting to see a herd of tule elk and a grizzly bear, animals that once lived in the Valley but are gone now. Or maybe I’d been transported even farther back, and should look out for saber-toothed cat and wooly mammoths.
I’m glad to know places like this still exist.
Pray for rain in California this year.