Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rain, rant and the Mokelumne River

Yesterday it was raining.., again. The living room smelled like wet dogs and the walls were closing in on us. The prospector greeted me with a wonderful idea. "Lets go out to breakfast.", he said. Sounded good to me, so we left the damp dogs and grumpy goats, drove down into town and had a great breakfast.We get the "senior discount" now. How sad that it has come to this: When I have to admit my age to get a decent meal. I guess the up side is that in an economy where food service is suffering, they can still give us a break. I should be happy about this. Even if they strip you of your dignity in the process. The waitress didn't even give me a second look when I ordered from the back of the menu under "senior" breakfasts. She could have questioned me.., she could have at least looked like she didn't believe me. Maybe I need to color my gray hair again or get a brow lift. Oh well.., I swallowed my pride and ordered the mini meal with the lower( well, your past your prime Miss Brody) price and tried not to wipe my mouth too much. Old people always wipe their mouths after each bite, don't they?

On our way home , the rain let up a bit, and we decided to drive over to the Mokelumne River. We drove down Highway 49 to Electra Rd. and turned up toward the river. This is a narrow road that follows the Mokelumne River up to the Electra hydro-electric power plant. It's a beautiful area of the river, as you can see in the first group of photos. The prospector and I come up here a lot to pan and(dare I say) dredge for gold, to picnic and cool off on hot summer days and to show friends what a beautiful area we live in.
We drove all the way to the end of the road. The spring grass is a lovely green carpet on the hills right now. Later all of this will turn brown and dry and become tinder for the summer fires that plague us, but right now it's just beautiful. Old stone walls, foundations and steps that go nowhere tell us of buildings that once existed and lives that were lived here. The power plant is a stately old building that holds the turbines and electricity that powers the plant. A penstock brings water from the upper Mokelumne down to the plant where it is forced through the turbines inside the building producing electricity. It's a beautiful idea; kind of like a glorified water wheel system.The river water can be monitored, allowing more or less water to flow into Pardee Reservoir in the valley below. It's a very controlled system that doesn't seem to impact the river accept for water levels that vary daily.
I'm sure there are others who would dispute what I'm saying, but until we stop the flood of people coming into this state we will need more and more water and reservoirs to accommodate everyone. "Wild and Scenic" preservation is a great idea, and I appreciate and understand the idea because I live here, but it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen when WATER is one of the biggest political games in this state.,
..., and while I,m on the this subject..,(This will be short and to the point, I promise) I must mention some of the "bicyclist", who thinks they own the quiet country roads around here, and yet, feel that they can throw their plastic water bottles on the ground as they drive by and.., for some reason, can't keep these bottles, lunch bags, etc. in their fanny packs or bike storage, or on their belt hooks.., I just want you to know that there are certain "rights"( that your entitled to) and there is.., "I just WANT to do this regardless."; which you think are entitlements. Yet you drive down our lovely, very narrow roads like there is no one else ,but you, to be concerned about and you throw you lunch bags and plastic bottles away, on the side of the road, for someone else to pick up. That would be us.
That "green" bottle of water may be good for your innards but it's toxic for OUR ENVIRONMENT. Think about that the next time you toss a bottle and complain (at the same time) about people who don't listen to your advocacy of the environment. JUST A HEADS UP (if you're even listening).
All right! I've been wanting to get that off my tired chest for a long time. Thank you for listening.

This photo below is for those of us with "rock lust".This is a gravel bar,on a switchback,of the river below the power plant. It's rock heaven. The rain made the whole area shiny and beautiful. Some of them looked like they came from some ancient lava flow, some are brittle, some are heavy and carry shiny minerals and the "gold" of fools who thought that they could find wealth in this river. Some of these stones were walked on by someone one hundred and fifty or more years ago. These folks were cold and wet and lived in tents. They were seekers of happiness and good fortune. Some of the early ones were lucky. They found GOLD. Most didn't.
Sometimes I think I can hear voices. Maybe it's just the sound of the river as it makes it's journey down to the valley floor. Still I expect to see a ghost or two, leaning over next to the bank, working a rocker box or metal pan in the hope of finding a nugget or gold dust hidden in the bedrock of this old river. I know the memories are still there, locked in these stones. I just have to see with a different eye. An eye that follows the flow of this beautiful river.

(All photos can be seen closer by clicking on them.)
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