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#FireSeasonIsComing

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Dear Californians: Please stop making smug Facebook posts about your January trips to the beach when you know the East Coast is getting the crap beat out of it by a storm. Please stop responding to your friends’ posts about snow and the importance of layering with reminders that if they’d just been smart enough to move to San Luis Obispo everything about their life would be short shorts and margaritas. Please stop using hashtags like #livingthedream, #paradise, and #hardlife to accompany photos of whatever you happen to be drinking at the moment in front of a sun-drenched land- or seascape.

And most importantly of all, please stop whining on the one day per year that it happens to rain on the Central Coast. You like sunshine. I get it. Short of crawling into a tanning bed and living out the remainder of your vapid existence getting pounded by ultraviolet radiation, you’re eventually going to have to accept the reality of rain. I’m talking to you, KCPR DJ who complained that the rainy weather was getting you down because you “just like sunshine;” and yes, if I could have reached through the radio and choked you, I would have.

I’m not saying this because I live in the Northeast and your January beach visits and fried-chicken tans are reminding me of all the things I miss in the middle of a brutally cold season that often claims people’s lives. I’m saying this because I live on the Central Coast, and I don’t have to be a meteorologist to know that it’s not supposed to be 85 degrees in January.

I want a white Christmas.

I want to wrap myself in a blanket and sit by the fire and listen to the rain.

I want to wear jackets and sweaters and scarves.

I want to make a lumpy snowman that will probably look terrible compared to his peers and develop an inferiority complex.

But more importantly, I don’t want to see everything in California die from dehydration. I don’t want people to have to pay a fortune for their water, or panic about the prospect of a well running dry. I don’t want to have to keep reading posts from my environmentally conscious friends about how if it’s yellow, you should let it mellow.

And those are the direct consequences of an 85-degree day in January. Nearly half of California is categorized as being in a state of “exceptional drought,” which is literally the most intense category of drought with a scary shade of red to accompany it. Compare that to one year ago when just 14.62 percent of the state was in “extreme drought” conditions. That’s still bad, but conditions aren’t getting better just because more people are acknowledging what’s going on. The next highest severity of drought is “extreme,” and 67.46 percent of the state falls into this category, with a whopping 93.44 percent of the state in the orange “severe drought” range.

I’m not going to lie and say I’m not trying to scare you. And no, I’m not asking you to leave your pee sitting in your toilet, unflushed. I’m just asking you to imagine what it would be like if your buddies on the East Coast started posting photos of pristine lakes sparkling and full of water, water bills that don’t cost half as much as your rent, with smug hashtags like #wevegotwater, #drinkyourheartout, and #actuallakes. They’d be total jackasses for capitalizing on an environmental disaster to score a few cheap points on social media.

And it’s not just the aesthetic implications of living in a desert wasteland that bother me. At the rate this state is progressing, fire season is going to be a year-round marathon, and those reserves of snow in Northern California that we rely on for drinking water are going to start looking like giant slush piles that are really only useful if you’re trying to open a sno-cone stand. As a lifelong California resident, I’m terrified, and I don’t even have to worry about whether my nonexistent children will like living in an Arrakis-like environment and whether they’ll eventually get used to the chafing of their stillsuits.

I know that thinking about these things is a lot less fun than drinking margaritas on the beach, and if you can’t leverage your California tan and endless sunshine in smug Facebook posts to insult your buddies on the East Coast, then what do you have to feel superior about? We might—and I’m just spitballing here—stop pretending that the “drought” is some kind of disdainful buzzword that doesn’t actually effect us. We might consider abstaining from complaining about a few measly days of rain per year (assuming we’re lucky). We might even stop assuming that 365 days of perfect sunshine is our due for having the good sense to move to the Central Coast.

 

Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach thinks reading in the rain is the perfect morning, afternoon, or evening. Send book recommendations to aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

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