California has little water. What we do have are high mountains onto which snow is suppose to fall, building up a snowpack, which then melts during the warming temperatures of spring. This water is then stored in lakes and reservoirs where it is released into canals from which farmers draw the water they need for their crops. It least it is suppose to work this way but climate change appears to be messing things up a bit.
Off of the “MIGHTY” canals are many small ones that divert the water to specific locations. I live along one of these smaller canals. Usually, the canal is dry except for the months of May, June and July when the water flows from farm to farm and eventually out to the ocean. But it wasn’t always this way. Back in the 1800’s the area from Bakersfield to San Francisco was pretty much a big lake. People traveled by boat up and down this HUGE swath of water that was many hundred of miles long. Then man decided to tame the waterways and all of nature that went with it. I suspect this area was much prettier before man’s intervention.
One of the highlights of my day involves walking along the canal and visiting with my wild neighbors. Every day I see Henry the lizard who darts out from the bushes to give me a hello. Sometimes I see the graceful white egrets dipping their bills deep into the silt looking for bugs and other delicacies. And on every stroll, I always hear the THA-RUPM of the gigantic bullfrogs which live around the banks of this soothing waterway; its quiet gurgling sounds washing over me and cleansing my mind .
But then the inevitable happens they crank down the trap door which stops the flow of the water. One day I’ll be walking and notice the waterline has lowered. The next it is lower still. Finally, around the pipes, all that are left are small shallows, minuscule bodies of water which the sun is unable to reach and suck dry quite as quickly as the rest.
And so yesterday, as I took my walk, I went to take a look under the small “bridges.” To my surprise there were about one hundred 3-5 inch long fish swimming lazily in the rapidly vanishing water. An unfortunate few were floating on the top an impending sign of danger to all that remained. It reminded me of the times in my past, when my life as I knew it, suddenly dried up and I was left slowly suffocating and gasping for air. I ran home in a panic.
“Come on kids. Let’s go. We have something important to do!” I shouted as I came bounding through the door. “Get the swimming pool net, get the ice chest, get a water scooper and some shoes that can get wet….we are going to save some fish!”
Of course, the kids looked at me as if I was crazy, like tweens and teens often do. Eye rolls soon followed.
Then Paul asked,” so what will we do with them after we catch them?”
Frankly, I was stumped. But after a few seconds a plan begins to focus in my mind.
“Why, we will drive them to the MIGHTY canal and release them. That’s what we will do!”
And so we headed off to the shallows armed with everything we needed to become the super heroes that we knew we were capable of being. But there was a problem as is always the case with superheroes in these types of dicey situations. In our case …the fish were not cooperating. Every time the net would come towards them they would flit away into the pipe and hiding from our super herculean efforts. Ten minutes went by. Not one fish. Twenty minutes…one floating fish was netted. Thirty minutes…it was so hot we were ready to swim in the slimy shallows ourselves. A hundred fish and we could not catch one.
Finally, like all great superheroes. we decided to look for other good deeds to do elsewhere but we learned an important lesson …you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I guess fish are like humans in that way and stupidity knows no bounds.