“It must first be said that with increased residential and agricultural use and improved water management, flood concern is not what it was a few decades back.”
Regarding the above statement, if I can be forgiven for using baseball metaphors at the height of football season, I offer this: Sometimes you get a little wood on the ball, sometimes you strike out and with that sentence it was three straight pitches over the plate and I never got the bat off my shoulder.
That little pontification became part of the vast amount of flotsam and jetsam now washed away in a rush of fast-moving water seeking the lowest ground. I took into account (pure speculation, I assure you) the population increases of the Valley towns, the increased amount of land for agricultural use and flood abatement measures put in place over the years.
Well, we now see how far off those estimates were. There are many people who are going to suffer tremendous loss and will have to deal with the traumatic aftermath of storms, which seem to come with unrelenting regularity as if the gods of nature were testing the resolve of mere humans.
Last week’s column was a look back at a time when I was far less aware of the financial impact and the heartache of loss that comes with such flooding. I can no longer claim that ignorance and truly offer condolences to those who have been sorely impacted.
Sadness: Just moments after writing the above, I became aware that a family I have known and worked with over the past nine years have lost their youngest son to flood waters. By the time this column appears, the public will be aware of the details of this terrible event, but right at this moment if feels like a sharp blow to the gut that knocks the wind completely out of a body.
(Addendum: Please allow me to publicly offer this letter to friends.)
To Tyler and Melanie, with love:
As I look back over the past few years, I see images of the two of you at different times of your lives. I see you, Melanie, completely at ease in your bonnet and frock in “The Music Man.” And after a year together at the Museum you, Tyler, drove up to the Barn in a Jaguar.
Over the years we have worked together, performed together and laughed together. It has been a blessing for many, many of us to see how you both have grown into the fine young adults you are today. We all now support you during this unfortunate time in your lives.
As you grow and mature and life goes on through the college years and the early career years and beyond, you will naturally associate with a mass of humanity, and humanity can sometimes be difficult. The day will come when someone, maybe a family member, maybe a co-worker, a friend, an acquaintance or possibly a complete stranger, but that person will be in the depths of despair because of some terrible tragedy, some great loss.
There will be many who will offer that person words of comfort, and those people will be sincere. But it will be your words Tyler, your words Melanie, that will bring that person out of despair, out of darkness because that person will know your words and your empathy come from a place of deep personal experience, and there is no substitute for experience. You two can be that righteous instrument offering hope to one in pain. You will be capable of words offering salvation to a despairing soul.
That day will come and you will rise to the occasion in testament of how you were raised. For now, know that for all your days you have the support of those of us who have seen you grow and mature. We love you.
I want to use some space to advertise an upcoming event on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds. Also, it is a plea for help on behalf of a nice person. The event is Farm Day, an annual event held in three county locations that introduces agricultural aspects of our area to third graders from local schools.
It is a wonderful event that reaches many young people who come away with a better understanding of a wide variety of agricultural activities. In many cases children come away with better understanding about what their own parents do when they go to work in the morning.
For the past few years, I have volunteered for this event at all three venues and have always enjoyed the teachers, chaperones and students who attend. And I usually come away learning something new. For Farm Day here in town this year, more volunteers are needed, so if you are interested and can manage a few hours walking the Fairgrounds on that morning, please contact montereycountyageducation.org or call Candi DePauw at 831-905-3669; tell ‘em Steve sent ya.
Gladness: I don’t often use this column to bore people with a bunch of stories of my kids or grandkids, but as some of you are aware a few years ago my daughter and seven grandkids up and skedaddled for Indian Territory. They settled in the village of Edmund, Okla., which is so close to Oklahoma City one only knows by city limit signs which city one is in.
In a conversation the other day with Jenny, my daughter, I was invited to my granddaughter Rebecca’s high school graduation in mid-May with the possibility of chaperoning the three youngest grandkids back to California to visit with relatives here in Monterey County. At my time of life, this is an opportunity that I will not pass up; I am now planning for what will prove to be a wonderful adventure. I want to add here that I make these plans with humble thanks that such a journey is possible.
Take care. Peace.