Grass has begun to grow in Los Angeles after just two days of steady rain. At the top of our street, tender, green shoots have sprung up on a brown, dusty hill that's been hospitable only to the gophers.
Save for parks and golf courses, there's relatively little grass here. Unlike the suburban Midwest, where the houses around us had verdant lawns nourished by sprinkler systems, most of our neighbors here have replaced their grass with succulents and rocks. Still, there are a few holdouts and, three years into Southern California drought culture, I feel judgy when I see a well-watered patch of grass.
I'm fueled by Curbed LA, which regularly drought shames municipalities (Beverly Hills) and individuals (Tom Selleck and the Kardashians) for their disregard of our collective water conservation efforts.
Our yellow lab mix, Bella, is magnetically drawn to the smattering of lawns on our hilly, twisty street. She grew up believing that's where she's supposed to do her business, but people who are growing grass don't appreciate it when your dog squats on their lawn, even if you do scoop your poop. So, like the rest of us -- or most of the rest of us, anyway -- Bella, too, has adjusted to the drought and become less discerning when it comes to her daily constitutional. Like me, she noticed the blades of grass growing these last couple of days on the parched hill we frequent morning, noon and night and took a few nibbles at it, like a pony in a pasture.
They say even with the torrents expected with this winter's El Niño, it's unlikely there'll be enough rain to end our epic drought. It would take rains of biblical proportion for us to rise up from the Valley of Dry bones.
Still, I'm moved by the earth's response to a 48-hour downpour. As stingy as the skies have been, the ground holds no grudge. It is thirsty and willing to drink. All it takes is a little encouragement and nurture and somehow a cracked, dusty hillside springs to life.
I wonder if we can do the same for each other? Rain down kindness and reassurance... cultivate acceptance... proffer forbearance.
And what about ourselves?
Can we tend to the dry, brittle places within? Practicing radical self-care that fills cracks in the soul and wipes dust from the lonely, dark corners of our hearts?
I need to believe that green blades of optimism and love can push through stubborn crusts of hatred, intolerance and suspicion... that there's still a reservoir of enduring hope... and that when the floodgates open, whether by faith or conscience or simple human decency, the waters flow with a drought-ending rush of cool, cleansing promise that renews the face of the earth.