Oppressive: A Dark Tale from the Hinterland
by Jan Zbiciak Brummett

raging Cold Creek

It rained for days and days and weeks and weeks.
Maybe a month? Came down so hard, so wet, so deafeningly, so forcefully, so relentlessly, that the moisture got into our muscles, seeped into our bones, into our psyches.

Two creeks pass through our property in Trinity (far, far northern California): Cold Creek and Salt Creek. On damp winter days such as these, the creeks are no longer friendly and serene. They quickly fill beyond their banks with rapidly churning chocolate milk runoff from the snow pack in the mountains above. They scream past our windows, carrying whole trees and other assorted forest debris with speeding, violent fury. The sound is endless and intrusive; like an angry, perpetual series of waves from the ocean crashing infinitely on a nearby beach. My cat, who is oh so sensitive to high pitched sounds, begs for me to make the annoying noise stop. Would that I could turn a dial or click a button and gain control of Mother Nature, if only for a moment.

Salt Creek rapids

Satisfyingly, the air stays brisk and clean, both from the constant cleansing of the continuous rainstorms as well as the agitating tumult in the waterways.

The roof on our house in Trinity is metal and on the inside of the house we have open beamed ceilings. The downpour is so severe --- eternally banging and beating like a livid drummer --- that it wakes us from a sound sleep with such crashing intensity. Sometimes the rain prevents us from ever falling or staying asleep, its’ audible ferocity lasting for days upon days (lost nights upon lost nights). And to think that I complain about our noisy neighbors in the city!

We read, we write, we play music, have endless chess tournaments, draw pictures, watch movies. We make soups and biscuits and roasted meals in the oven. We drink steamy teas and warm, rich coffees. We buy new raincoats to walk the dog and still can only walk a mile or so before we are drenched to the bone. Our sinuses punish us with sniffles. The earth is spongy under our feet, a clear sign that saturation is all around us. We grow weary of being indoors.

One of my Trinity neighbors told me that she has kept a calendar and that it started raining on December 16, 2005, perhaps earlier. The local weekly newspaper reports that folks have done measuring throughout the county: 16 inches here, 19 inches there. New springs burst forth under every rock, or so it seems. It is sopping, soggy, soaked. In our 16 years here, the creeks have rarely been higher, rarely been more gorged. On NPR, they say that more rain is in the forecast. We poise to hunker down again.

Salt Creek White Water

Today is January 5, 2006 and the shattering, incessant dousing has finally ceased. Albeit temporarily, or so reports the weatherman. Still, we are euphoric with a blessed breather. The sun has at long last, come piercing through the thick and lingering cloud cover. Although filtered, it is possible to clearly make out its’ warm, silvery orb. And we are basking in it. We long for the desert, for the Caribbean, a warm, white Greek Island… nostalgic for the hot, dry, sunny summers, which grace Trinity.

Pretend it is Cozumel once again.

For additonal photographs and commentary, visit the artist's notebook.


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hiker said...

Fascinating place to live....

snowbird said...

Love your story -- winter has been crazy everywhere! Write more for us!

wayneb2 said...

Just logged in and read this. Wow. Awesome. Keep us posted. Love your writing!