El Niño’s 50 Shades of Green

When I first learned that I was moving back to California just in time for the most intense El Niño since 1997, I was bummed. One of the biggest issues I had with New York was the erratic weather. I had just finished experiencing 3 east coast winters – one where we were displaced as a result of Hurricane Sandy, one where it snowed a lot, and one where the Polar Vortex brought abnormally cold temperatures. Could extreme weather please stop following me around?

But now that I’ve seen the local landscape transform before my eyes in the last four months, I am so happy that El Niño is here. Of course, I always knew that we needed all the rain. I hadn’t been living in California, but I had heard and read about the drought extensively. When I got here everything was truly dry and yellow in parks, preserves, and even along the side of the freeway. Alex and I joked that the GPS in our car needed a “drought” option when displayed CGIs of exits showed green grass on the side of the road.

Now, only several months into the rainy phenomenon, I can already tell that the environment is better off. There is greenery everywhere! The large tree in our backyard is budding new leaves. The banks of the hills in the Mt. Sutro Reserve are covered in tiny, new green plants. The creeks are flowing during hikes on Mt. Tam in Marin. The flowers that live on our balcony, which I forgot to water, have spawned new life and re-blossomed. It’s amazing!

Although El Niño won’t cure our drought of the last four years or undo its effects, it is certainly a big step in the right direction. I may feel differently about it in a few more months, but right now I’m enjoying waking up to the sound of the rain and watching the beautiful local fauna flourish.



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