The Storm before the Calm

A River in the Sky

2022 went out with a soaking wet bang here in Santa Cruz. The final day of the year brought a deluge of water to the county with as much as 7 inches coming down in Ben Lomond. It’s a strange thing to look at the world around you with swollen rivers and flooding streets, and to couple that with the fact that 100% of the county is still in a horrible drought. Well, for at least one day, we drank.

It was a good day to stay inside, but the storm passed around 10pm making it possible to go out for a walk to get some exercise and to inspect the aftermath. I bundled up and headed out, b-lining for the coast and turning left towards the San Lorenzo River. I have no doubt that body of water will one day be renamed, but it will continue to have its strange effects upon this region. It’s a filthy river and one that divides us. But, it is the river that comes down from the mountains, and I love it.

I made my way carefully to the river mouth. In order to get there I had to pass through the Boardwalk. I almost never feel any fear walking around SC any time of day or night, but I know that New Year’s Eve brings out the worst in some people so my head was on a swivel. There was a dance party bumping upstairs of the Jack Lounge and another one out at a restaurant on the wharf. Other than that, the only signs of it being the last night of the year were a few puddles of puke from eager revelers who couldn’t pace themselves.

Since ’82

This is one of the biggest storms since 1982, when my brother was born up in the mountains of Ben Lomond and the roads washed out and many people were killed by the natural disaster of Love Creek. This seems to happen periodically and we are likely witnessing the most recent episode. This week has more rain in the forecast and without enough time for the land to absorb the water it is looking pretty sketchy to say the least.

After hooting and hollering at the river for a few minutes, I made my way back to West Cliff. It was getting close to midnight, and I wanted to be in position to capture some photos of the fireworks that usually light up our skies on New Year’s. As I stood with my camera on my tripod composing shots of the ocean and the wharf where I thought the works would likely be visible, small groups of drunken partiers cruised past on foot. Well, the clock struck midnight and a large group of people on Main Beach let out a series of primal screams and ran into the ocean for a baptismal dip.

Loving and Leaving

I recently made the commitment to move to Rio del Mar, to be closer to my daughter, her sister, and her mom. This means leaving the Westside of Santa Cruz, a place I have grown to love wholeheartedly over the past 8 years. There are so many people, things, and scenes that I will miss and with the timeline for my departure set those things are becoming clearer to me every day. While I was trying to get a good shot of the fireworks that were rather underwhelming, I turned around to photograph one of my favorite trees on West Cliff.

There is a palm tree that is tall and skinny and beautifully bowed by the omnipresent offshore winds. It has grown like a bow loaded and ready to fire arrows off into space. The half moon was drifting in and out of misty clouds, and I composed a shot before walking the remaining few blocks home to go to bed.

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