For over two days now a song has been going on in the back of my mind. Occasionally I would register that it was a James Taylor song. but it wasn’t til this morning, as I was driving on the only open route into Santa Rosa, due to extensive flooding, that the words to the song leapt into my awareness with sudden force, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain”!
At that moment on River Rd. the entire Laguna flood plain was spread out before me, that same plain that had carried the message of fire and smoke for periods of time the past two years. Fire and rain. Record breaking rain in Santa Rosa this week and the worst flooding in over two decades, following on the heals of the record breaking firestorm.
I headed into Sebastopol later to see what the flooding had done there. Muddy Laguna waters had invaded town. The Barlow, our town market area, was under water and roped off. I set up my stool on the edge of the water, facing the residential area, hoping to tell some of the story in sketches.
While I sketched onlookers came and went. Children raced into the water while parents expressed dismay. “You’ll soak your shoes!”
(Child)”I want to go in a boat!!” “Why is the trash can floating?”
I started collecting ironies. . .
–The Barlow sign restricting parking to Barlow customers, when the only parking in the lot was under water.
–The Not a Through Street sign on the street that was under water and had become a thoroughfare for kayaks.
–The Slow Children Playing sign, again on the street where no children were allowed but there were lots of adults playing in their canoes.
–And the white and blue fire hydrant which was itself under water and unlikely to be needed at that time.
I stopped counting how many boats paddled by me in this downtown Sebastopol street, but I’m guessing 30 in less than an hour – or how many people took pictures of the lady sitting at the edge of the water sketching (me).
I tried sneaking into the area where all the crews were hard at work, but got shooed out, along with all the other curious townspeople.
So I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, and I have a fair idea of all the grief folks must endure when their home and business life must be restored before life can return to some semblance of normalcy. To them I send my prayers and hope that they’ll once again see sunny days that they think will never end.