Having grown up in the muggy tropics of Louisiana, I was amazed when I first moved to this Mediterranean climate in 2003. It was such a treat, the reliably cool nights after scorching days, rosemary and lavender thriving between sidewalk and street. The rainy season was actually rainy.

Today I scan the 10-day forecast for signs of moisture and wonder(worry) about river swimming this summer. According to Sonoma Water, Santa Rosa has only gotten 12.77 inches of rainfall this water-year, about half an inch more than the driest year on record, and far below the average 32.20 inches.

I think of Mary Oliver’s poem “At the River Clarion,” which starts like this:

… all afternoon I listened to the voices of the river talking. Whenever the water struck a stone it had something to say…

I love this call to stillness, this resistance to relentless output and distraction, a tuning back in to nature. Given the dire climate crisis and a fire season looming, it feels crucial to awaken to ecological possibilities right here in our own backyards. For this issue I interviewed Trathen Heckman of the nonprofit Daily Acts, who gets excited about the cumulative effects of small and persistent efforts. Featured within are three relatively accessible (albeit for home-owners and renters) examples of conservation hydrology that help improve the resiliency of our local watershed.

Oliver again:

I do the little each person can do, it isn’t much. Sometimes the river murmurs, sometimes it raves.

This issue also features entrepreneurs who listened to their internal murmurs—like Steve Doty of Shady Oak, madcap experimenter drawn to the sour beer fringe. Evan Wiig writes about Earthseed Permaculture, the result of visionary Pandora Thomas heeding the call to develop the first Black-led and -operated farm and educational center in Sonoma County. And winemaker Kaitlin Childers founded Camp Rose Cellars after getting fed up with the male-dominated industry and deciding that she “would never again let someone else(especially a wealthy man) dictate [her] value.”

As we move deeper into spring, I wish you a time of fertile soil and healthy growth. May we listen to the cries for justice—environmental, social, political—and may we do our best to respond.

Jess D. Taylor


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May/June 2021 Issue - Online Version

Story by Jess D. Taylor

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