Singing in the Storm

Hi Jane,

What a weekend! A torrent of 9000 protesting women flowing through the downtown streets of Santa Cruz on Saturday, matched by a river that reached a velocity of 9000 cubic feet per second the next day.

San Lorenzo River near El Rio Mobile Home Park, January 22, 2017

As I watched the river pass the 20-foot high peak on Sunday, I caught a glimpse of this SONG SPARROW, both of us staring at the wild scene unfolding before our eyes. The tiny sparrow kept right on singing, raising my spirits in this winter of wild politics and wild weather. Readers can go to to get all the details about the height and velocity of the river, posted every 15 minute intervals. I was glued to this website during the heavy rains this last week, ready to pack up and head for higher ground at a moment’s notice.

Song Sparrow, watching the swollen San Lorenzo River, January 22, 2017

And didn’t you, Lisa Sheridan and I have fun on Steve Pleich’s show on Community Television Sunday night! I had happened to catch Steve’s earlier show with Greg Pepping of the Coastal Watershed Council where he presented only the arguments in favor of paddling. When I complained to Steve about this back in November, he was very open to inviting us onto his show to present the other side. He was such a gracious host –many thanks to Steve and to our wonderful Community Television station! Readers can see the hour-long show on YouTube at CTV.

And speaking of videos on YouTube, here is a short video that Rachel O’Malley sent me of some MALLARDS happily foraging on the rain-swollen Jessie Street Marsh at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River, probably refugees from the surging San Lorenzo. If readers have never visited this little known, neglected and artificially cut-off part of the San Lorenzo River, this is a great time to stop by. The Marsh might look like this all year if it were only properly maintained by Parks and Recreation. Rachel, who is a professor of environmental studies at San Jose State, has for many years pushed hard to get the City to implement the Jessie Street Marsh Plan which would restore the Marsh as a critical wetland habitat. Now that Chris Krohn is on the City Council, maybe there will be some progress on this project. I hope some readers take the time to visit the Marsh in the coming weeks. Just head down Ocean St. towards the ocean, turn left on Barson, then right on Pearl which runs into Lemos. Park on Lemos and walk east towards the marsh. This is a rare chance to see the Marsh in its potential glory.

Last Wednesday I ventured out on a very chilly morning to see how our bird friends were handling the fast flowing river! I only found about 2/3 of the species I find on more normal days, and numbers were far down. As I reported two weeks ago, the waterfowl that were braving the torrents were carefully hugging the banks and backwaters. I was surprised to see both COMMON GOLDENEYES AND BUFFLEHEADS way up by the Water St. Bridge, maybe a result of the surging tides at the mouth where they usually feed.   8 SNOWY EGRETS weren’t spaced far apart as they usually are, but lined up close to each other as if giving each other support during these hard times.

Four of eight Snowy Egrets hanging together during storm, January 18, 2017Enter a caption
Two Bufflehead and two Common Goldeneye hanging together near Water St. Bridge during storm, January 18, 2017.

Heading home from my walk, I had a sweet moment when I heard really beautiful guitar music emerging from under the Water St. Bridge. I introduced myself to homeless musicians Ricardo Lopez playing backup for composer Miguel DeLeon. When two Park Rangers slowed down next to their camp, Ricardo asked for some plastic bags to help pick up their trash. The three chatted and Ricardo got the bags. Ricardo talked to me about Park Rangers and remembered appreciatively a Head Ranger named Heather Rider who he said had “treated all of us with respect”. I thought to myself that Ricardo and Miguel were just like the Song Sparrows, singing right through the storm.

Ricardo Lopez, musician, student of religion and philosophy, houseless, January 18, 2017. Water St. Bridge

Ricardo Lopez, musician, student of philosophy and religion, houseless.

Miguel DeLeon, musician, composer, houseless, Water St. Bridge, January  18, 2017

Best wishes to you and to all creatures braving one kind of storm or another!


3 thoughts on “Singing in the Storm

  1. Barbara,

    Beautifully written, comparing the storm with the march. The photo of Ricardo, philosopher, homeless with his guitar is worth publishing somewhere. (Kind of reminded me of Robin Williams in The Kingfisher, though Ricardo’s much handsomer). The composition and quality of light is professional.



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