stevenson column sig 2

Local opinion columnists

Tales of drought and downpours

By From page A11 | January 17, 2014

I don’t know why it still drives me crazy. When we’re in an extended dry period – and that doesn’t refer to the number of weeks I’ve gone without a drink – and radio and television personalities will be, as they say, not be clear on the concept.

They’re reading the news, or maybe it’s just a condensed weather report by itself, and they’ll say something like “tomorrow should be another beautiful day like today.”

OK, we’ve had mild weather and clear blue skies almost every day, but I can’t fully enjoy them when we’re experiencing the longest period without rain since before the Civil War. That’s an unwelcome record lasting more than 150 years. Even though my wife Clare and I don’t grow anything – not even marijuana, as they’re doing legally in Colorado – I always look forward to late October and early November, when the hills in and around Fairfield start turning green.

If I don’t have to drive anywhere, rain on the weekend is especially nice. I might even make a martini for myself and a Manhattan for the old lady – maybe I shouldn’t use that term anymore – and just enjoy the sound of the rain.

It’s not that we can’t have too much of a good thing. When we moved into our house 25 years ago, a heavy rain meant a ceiling leak in one of the upstairs rooms. Fortunately, the builder took care of it as soon as the weather cleared up.

You’ll remember that in 2005, there was a storm that swallowed California the day before New Year’s Eve. Roads were flooded all over the place, so, even the short drive to Raley’s was impossible.

I decided to turn back home and assumed I could get through a couple of inches of rain. I came upon the intersection of Rockville and Abernathy roads and thought it would be OK to ignore the “road closed” sign. This was before Abernathy was repaved, widened and generally improved.

About halfway up Abernathy, I realized had made a great mistake. The rain and wind were coming hard from the west, but I thought I would keep going, since turning around would be useless. But the rain was too much for my sturdy, Swedish-made Volvo, and after another quarter-mile, it gave up the ghost.

Efforts to restart the car were to no avail, so I realized I would have to walk in the 1½-foot deep water, and enjoy the constant rain and wind. Fortunately, I had my cellphone, so, after slogging through the water for a few hundred yards, I was rescued by Rick, my friend and neighbor. If you’re wondering, when I called AAA, they said they had 700 calls in the county and would not be able to tow my car until the next day, at best. So my car was stranded in the center of Abernathy Road with no help available.

To make matters worse, the power went out for eight hours. It was not until the next day that I found out that my Volvo was towed by order of the Fairfield police. Would you believe that it was two months before I got my car back? Among other things, they replaced the engine, and I believe the insurance company paid almost $20,000, along with the rental for two months for the Korean car (maybe North) that I was given to drive.

Is there a lesson to be learned from this?

Well, if it ever rains again in Fairfield, and rains so hard you see “road closed” signs at intersections, don’t ignore them. As to whether it might rain, many years ago, after a very dry November through February, we had what some called “The March Miracle.”

Who knows, maybe Mother Nature is just teasing us, and the rain will start before the month ends. Let’s hope so.

Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]

Bud Stevenson

Bud Stevenson


Discussion | 2 comments

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  • Rich GiddensJanuary 17, 2014 - 7:12 am

    California will not receive any significant rainfall because I said so. Enjoy your just desserts.

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  • BaseballmomJanuary 17, 2014 - 8:33 am

    How well I recall that rain the evening of the 30th and morning of the 31st. I lived half mile from Raleys and it took 45 minutes to get there. That was some crazy rain... And then in October of '09 (I think) we had a "perfect storm" and got about 5 or 6 inches in just a few hours... Loved it!!!!

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