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Sonoma County Gazette
Occidental Oriented By Gino Gaffney

A Pretty Wet and Wild Set of Storms 
& The Return of the Salmonids
to our Local Waterways!

Jan 30, 2019


Though today feels more like Spring, I would like to say “happy Winter” to everyone. When last I was writing for the Gazette, we hadn’t quite crossed over into Winter yet. I love how just a few days after becoming Winter the days actually start to get longer, beckoning us forward towards a New Year.

Did ya’ll see the lunar eclipse last weekend? It was pretty spectacular. Oddly enough, I was inside Graton Casino and managed to remember to step outside at an appropriate time. It was weird, being around tons of people (the place was packed) and all manner of bright lights, then stepping outside where no one was paying any attention to the sky and the 2nd brightest light of all was slowly dimming away. It wasn’t the best place for viewing and I much prefer nature and natural light to a casino, but it was a fun night and I did talk one of my friends out of his seat at the blackjack table to come look with me.

Did you lose power last week? It was a pretty wet and wild set of storms we got wasn’t it? I lost power for approximately 12 hours and it gave me a thought to ponder. Having grown up with power outages being a somewhat expected occurrence every Winter, I became fond of them and what they meant to me and my family. A caveat inserted here, I’m talking about the ones that last hours, not days.

As in the past there’s the initial disorientation, then a bit of scrambling to get flashlight/lantern/candle lit. There’s the thankfulness that we have a fireplace keeping the house warm, and a propane stove on which to cook. I heard numerous generators fire up around the neighborhood and thought about the different experience we all have starting from the same point. Yes, the neighbors might have been able to watch the Warrior’s game that I missed but can they experience the nostalgic pleasure of reading by candlelight next to a roaring fire?

I guess part of what I’m thinking is that it is good for us humans to have our routines broken up at times and the power going out can certainly be one of those. When we lose all our bright lights and electronic gadgetry, we can potentially gain another level of intimacy with those around us. When the TV stops talking, we are more likely to engage in conversation ourselves and when the ball-game’s not on we may bust out a board game.

All this being said, I was happy to wake up to my heater running the next morning, telling me the power was back on and I wouldn’t need to turn on our generator or risk losing the contents of the fridge.

Also, I give thanks to the firefighters and linemen out in the storm keeping us safe and doing their best to keep our power on.

Another wintertime occurrence of note is the return of the salmonids to our local waterways. This weekend I went down to the observation deck at Salmon Creek School and in 15 minutes of viewing saw two fish attempting to jump the waterfalls. If you have never seen this spectacle with your own eyes, let me tell you it is one of the most magnificent facets of nature out there. I love the concept of the fish being able to distinguish its native stream by the smell of the water. I love the herculean efforts they make to swim mile after mile to return to the very place they were born, all to bring about the next  generation while sacrificing their own life. It is truly amazing to see a huge fish exploding out of the water, tail beating furiously to gain purchase and propel them through the air, up and over the fall.

If you would like to see this spectacle yourself the prime viewing time in my experience is January and February. We have to get some big rain to bring up the creek level, then wait a bit (a day?) for the water clarity to return but the water level to still be high. The observation deck is awesome and even if you don’t see any fish the view and sound of the water are always a pleasure any time of year. When you enter the school, property take your immediate right into the dirt parking lot. On the right hand side, you will see a set of beautiful gates that open to the observation deck. If you are there during school hours, it  would be good to check in at the office up in the main part of the campus. Good luck to you and the fish!



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