Sunsets and Droughts

314646922_70ff55495b_z We don’t have curtains up on our windows yet, but the wide windows in the living room and kitchen offer a view that takes my breath away every morning when I wake to the stars, and every afternoon when the sun glides away from us into another place.

It’s not supposed to be so beautiful here. This is supposed to be the rainy season. January and February bring rains to the fields. January and February are the months that allow the plants to grow, the months that feed us, feed the country that relies on all these California farms.

People laugh when they ask what neighborhood we’ve moved to. It’s the joke, the last stop on the way out of the city, “the suburbs” of San Francisco, single family homes stacked side by side and pavement, square boxes and 5 x 5 patches of grass in front for the lucky ones. Our neighborhood is so close to the ocean that the fog San Francisco is known for starts here, where we’ve planted ourselves. Soon, it will settle in around our new home. We won’t see anything but cloud out these windows for months. And that’s why we can afford to live in a house by the ocean. The fog changes everything. The sun will still set, but we’ll never see it passing its day above the ocean, tucked in behind the cool, thick mist.

So this clarity outside, these magnificent sunsets feel wrong and magical. Chris hurries home from work and I stop cooking dinner and we wonder out onto the patio to stare at the sky we shouldn’t be able to see. The sun slices itself into strips—orange and reds and pinks—and leaks across the sky’s dome.

And we stand and stare from our perch. Does anyone else see this? Is anyone else noticing? We feel alone on the porch, our kids stepping out to join us. We say, “Isn’t it beautiful?”

And we know. The rain should be here. The governor called for “good Californians” to conserve water, to do our part until the drought reverses.

I go back inside to finish searing the salmon. I stir the rice on the stove. Should I thank God for rainlessness, when its lack makes beautiful sunsets, when its lack is harmful to the land? Can I thank God for the wide windows and our need for curtains and the magic on display each night this week, even if shouldn’t be so lovely, so beautiful here?

I chop the salad and look up, over and over, as the color fades from the sky, and my husband plays with the boys in the other room. Some things just are. They just are as they are.

Can I thank God for rainlessness? I don’t know.

So I say it anyway, moving my gaze from stove to window.  Over and over, I say thank you.


Photo Credit: ((brian)) on Flickr

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