Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

It’s that time of year again. At the end of a long, wet winter, we Californians are exhausted by the grey, the mud, the mess. We are tired of short days and rain and storms. Our bodies are depleted of vitamin D and our spirits are low to the ground where the mud and the mess reside. We have nearly lost sight of our chirpy optimistic selves.

In short, we do not do well once winter carries on from five into six months and we feel as if springtime will never arrive. Never, ever. It will be like this for always. Call it the plague of global warming — the sun will pack up and move away to someplace that needs her more, leaving us with the constant rain. Could happen.

Through the streaming rain that cascaded yet again down my dirty windows, I glimpsed a spark of orange in my neighbor’s meadow. I focused a little more closely on the blossoming eye candy. There were bright orange poppies in that swathe of long green grass, and how gorgeous are they! On the side of the road, purple lupins were popping up and yellow mustard covering the green in a rather lush blanket. Like it or not, spring is on her way, and she will be going big this year!

I ran outside, when there was finally a break in the rain, and took a rather good shot of my white horse against a green meadow with the Salinas River to the left and the cloudy white-grey mass above, the sun insistently breaking through from above to create an amazingly powerful snapshot. I was rather impressed by the image and shared it to great applause on social media. The early spring can give us gifts too — sometimes we just have to look harder to find them from beneath our umbrella.

During a break in the rain, my white horse stands out against a green meadow, with the Salinas River to the left and the cloudy white-grey mass above. (Contributed)

“More rain with more chances of rain ….” the weather report droned on. We live in an outdoor culture, we are not used to having to play indoor games for months, hang our laundry indoors, do much of anything much (except for taxes) indoors. And here we are … drip drip drip. But we did get some cheer this past weekend at the Paint & Sip at Scheid Vineyards (not to be confused with paint and drip). I attended one of these before. You don’t have to be any great artist, just be ready to have a little fun and get your hands dirty.

What a gathering there was on this abysmally rainy day. I had booked the session — because I like wine, yes — but also the chosen image to be painted was of a cowboy boot and sunflowers, two of my daughter’s favorite things. Sadly, daughter had a previous engagement, so I went along with her best friend Brittney and my poor long-suffering old man (“Why am I here? Me and one other dude in a room of 5,000 women?”) He did have a point, but it was a very cheerful gathering in any case in the lovely large tasting room at Scheid, perfect for the wet weather occasion.

And oh, what fun we had. The three hours whizzed by — in fact I needed a bit longer to “perfect” my piece, plus we had a spot of nice barbecue lunch while we worked and chatted and sipped three hours away. It was so fun to see the different pieces created following the same instructions. Britt was all inside the lines, I was all outside the lines and husband was way off course and directive — so indicative of so many things.

I felt quite lightened after a good giggle at Scheid, some lovely wines and banter and also after the purchase of an incredible cupcake to take home with me, courtesy of the day’s caterer. Next it was time for the serious business of ranch sitting at my daughter’s for the second night in a row and bottle feeding her baby goats, which always makes me feel like an earth mother to all living things.

Once all the ranch babies were in bed, I sat and watched the rain drops on the simulated “lake” in the backyard and feasted my eyes on the greenery all around. I could just hear the rush of the river in the background — such a wholesome sound.

I needed to get over my winter fatigue — a thing — and embrace all the gifts that have been bestowed upon us these past few months. Never mind the mud and the mess, the grey and the wet, the ground is nicely watered for all the fruits and vegetables we are going to grow, the Salinas River is flowing heartily south to north behind my house and our opulent Salinas Valley looks set to have another great growing season with no water rationing in sight and no talk of that nasty “D” word (Drought).

Just a small newsflash to add, Highway 1 did collapse “a bit” into the sea today in Big Sur, but that isn’t really anything new during a Cali winter, and our busy Caltrans workers can simply cancel any holiday plans for the time being and get ready for some more delicious overtime. Beauty costs time and money, no matter how you get there. Whether it be the startlingly bright green hue of our mountains and hills, or another asphalt collapse of one of the most incredibly beautiful roadways in the world, wondrous things take time to get as wonderful as they can be.

I think right now our area is about as photographically divine as it’s going to get. Soon folks will be flocking to see the wildflowers and positively gasping at nature’s array of bounty at the end of such a long winter. Give us another four to five months and we will be yellow and dry again, the sun bright in the sky day after day and the soggy mud of home dried to adobe — same as it ever was.

I’m going to savor these days as winter blends into spring, our winter colds subside, and the days give us extra daylight and sunshine. Writing it down is my first stab at making it so.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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