Water Worries

We’re coming to the end of a dry, dry summer here in California, and recently I went in to a panic about our ongoing drought (three years and counting now since we had real rain!).

I may or may not have suggested Team Temple begin a five-year countdown to OPERATION: EXODUS. I may or may not have suggested we start job hunting in Seattle. I may or may not have done some real estate dumpster diving back home in Detroit. I may or may not have ruined my coworkers’ nights with droughtpocalypse nightmares. I’m fairly certain I’m really unpopular around the office right now.

As we prepared to drive up north to Trent’s parents’ house on Lake Almanor for our annual end-of-summer Labor Day relaxation weekend, I was not-surprisingly feeling not-so-relaxed over what we might encounter in our beloved California wilderness.

And, some of it was really as bad as I had imagined. Lake Oroville, for example, outside Chico, is nearly empty.


Not good. Really.

Upon getting to Almanor, we found things were better, but they weren’t outright good. The lake is spring-fed and near the top of the “water food chain” so it’s holding about 75% full. Still, Goose Bay, where we taught Sammy to swim three years ago as a puppy, is now a completely dry meadow. The geese don’t even bother to poop there any more. THERE WAS NO POOP, I tell you! We confidently strolled onto the dry lakebed in sandals. SANDALS!


Goose Bay, 2011.

Goose Bay, 2012.

Goose Bay, 2012.

Goose Bay, 2013.

Goose Bay, 2013.

[Goose Bay, 2014 – TOO SAD FOR PICTURE!]

Also, the locals continue to water their lawns daily in the full sunshine and hose down their driveways. ARGH. Apparently they haven’t driven past Lake Oroville lately.


Lately, as my anxiety grows over what we as human beings do to our planet and the future we’re shaping for the people we continue to put on it (like my niece – it was her first Labor Day at Mt. Lassen!), I’ve found myself thinking back to my new year’s epiphanies, reminding myself that “all people operate from the same two motivations: to fulfill their desires and to escape their suffering.” It’s easy for me to categorize the actions of most folks I encounter along those lines (especially the water wasters), but I’ve been wondering where I belong, reveling in this neverending bad news about the drought. It almost feels like I’m FULFILLING my SUFFERING. Could I somehow manage to get Buddhism wrong?

She looks concerned for the future of the planet, doesn't she?!?!?! Sam just wants his ball.

She looks concerned for the future of the planet, doesn’t she?!?!?! Sam just wants his ball.

So, while we were at the lake, I made sure I at least got it right for a day. We went and filled our desire for a summer splashdown in a super-special watering hole at the cross of the Feather River and Spanish Creek, still flowing together mightily, high up in a quiet corner of forgotten mountains, with no one around to enjoy any of it but us (and maybe a couple clued-in locals).

Old man river, carry my worries away...

Old man river, carry my worries away…

Hopefully, it’s still there next year. Because I’m certain to still be bad at Buddhism.


See all our pics of Labor Day 2014 at Lake Almanor here.

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2 thoughts on “Water Worries

  1. Margaret Wisniewski says:

    Sad and scary. And, at the same time, hauntingly beautiful. I wish everyone had the same level of concern for the environment as you do. At least your blogs will make us more aware of the dangers that we all face if we stop caring about the gifts God gave us. I will keep praying for rain……….

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