Nancy and I drove down California’s Salinas Valley yesterday, into South Monterey County, by or through the towns of Gonzales, Soledad and Greenfield, then further south by King City and San Lucas and into San Ardo and Bradley and even into San Miguel in San Luis Obispo County.
Although this is the land of the Hamiltons and the Trasks in ``East of Eden’’ and George and Lennie in ``Of Mice and Men,’’ I kept thinking of Steinbeck’s other great novel, ``The Grapes of Wrath,’’ because great wind bursts were not only testing my driving but sending clouds of dust into the air blurring the Santa Lucia Mountains to the west and the Gabilans to the east.
Dust devils spurted up tractor trails and between rows of walnut trees and grape vines. Tumbleweed, or California relations to such, blew across Highway 101 and into the windshields of cars heading north or south.
Weren’t these two of the conditions that produced Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in the 1930s, years of drought followed by days and weeks of wind? Fortunately the winds have died down today, but a drought definitely seems to be looming. The winter has been one of the driest in decades.
A San Ardo man, a friend, told us many fields haven’t been planted this year that would have at this point in previous years been beginning to bear produce. ``The water needs to sink in there months ahead to plant now,’’ he said. ``And that hasn’t happened this year.’’
Yesterday morning there had been moisture on San Ardo’s few roads, a miniscule fraction of an inch of rain that came just before dawn and gave the pavement a glassy look, but within thirty minutes of sun and wind the pavement was again bone dry.
Many fields appeared fallow on the back road (old Highway 101) between San Ardo and San Lucas. There were a number of fields being irrigated through a spray system, but much of the water was blowing into the air to join the dust to go, or end, who knows where.
In Tennessee Williams’ ``Cat on a Hat Tin Roof,’’ Big Daddy proclaimed his Mississippi Delta Land had the richest topsoil ``this side of the Valley Nile.’’ And though rich the Delta is indeed, the Salinas Valley might dispute Big Daddy’s claim.
Tons of that rich California topsoil swirled into the skies yesterday. Hopefully, the winds will not return. But that seems unlikely. The valley is infamous for a relentless spring wind. So heavy rain seems to be the only answer.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...