California’s growth rhythm is always a mystery to newcomers from four season climates. In Sonoma County we already see the first stirring of new life even as the leaves linger on the trees and Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas bear down on us. These early rains have triggered the grasses and beneath our still golden hills the new season is being born.
I was at spectacular Applewood Inn a few days ago, talking with innkeeper Jimmy Caron (update: new owners now) as the gentle rain was falling in the courtyard. A passing guest heard us admiring the summer-ending rain and reminded us that tourists aren’t quite as happy with early season rainfall as the locals. His party had pored over weather predictions for months, hoping for a beautiful and dry tour of the wine country at the end of the harvest. I was disappointed for him since I love showing off the beauty of the county to our valued visitors. On the other hand, he’s going to get the clean skies, fresh earthy smells, and sparkling crispness that isn’t possible without a cleansing rain.
I passed a Japanese maple after the rain. Many still-green leaves, already loosening for their personal fall, had taken a beating from a brief burst of pelting rain. They joined their yellowing comrades on the ground around a brass watering frog. For me, these first rains and emerging grass shoots mark the start of the new year even before the old year is ushered out the door.