Just weeks after moving in we (the two cats, my pup Phoenix, and of course me) awoke to a beautiful sight: snow drifting down and alighting atop an already beautiful blanket of white outside.
People don’t always understand the complexities of this thing know as “desert.” It’s not all sand dunes and camel trading nomads like in the Sahara. It’s not all hot mineral springs and golf courses with misters spraying water at every turn to protect you from the “heat” like in Palm Springs. There are many types of desert, including the Hi-Desert, which, due to it’s altitude, cools down to temperatures that allow for occasional periods of snowfall. It only snowed twice in the month of February, but both days were magical. By midday most of the beauty had melted and seeped into the ground. It was a shame to see all that good water go to waste. I’ve decided I’ve got to get rain gutters installed here at the homestead, because water is such a precious resource in this environment and I had no way to capture and store the large amount of precipitation that suddenly was available to me on my roof. It doesn’t rain much in the Hi-Desert either, but when it does, a rain gutter will allow me to capture all of that runoff too, and have ample supplies of fresh, natural water descended from the heavens to use here at the farm.
I have not seen one home here in the neighborhood with rain gutters on its façade. We are all so used to turning on a tap and trusting that H2O will always be available. We also trust that it’s clean water – that it hasn’t been polluted by the process of fracking or the supplementation of things like fluoride and chlorine. Right here where I live most homes have septic tanks, and this has been the “standard” for waste disposal for decades. It has also been a source of groundwater contamination repeated studies have shown. Septic leakage from old and outdated tanks, overflowing tanks that should have been pumped by owners who couldn’t be bothered, it all adds up to one thing. The end of pristine groundwater. After many years of wrangling between the County and City and citizens groups the State has stepped in and ruled that all the septic tanks must be removed, a sewer system must be created and distributed throughout the area, each home must be connected to it, and all waste must go to a centralized modern treatment facility. You would think the state had ordered each man to surrender a testicle and each women a breast.
The city did try to give folks an “out” at the last election. Vote for a special one cent increase in the sales tax for a period of time until all of the conversions are paid for. But you know the “No New Taxes” folks. They go on and on about freedom and American values and their right to have a septic tank even if it turns what comes out of their faucet into a diarrhea milkshake on tap. Everyone is “up in arms” about it (and some of the God and Country crowd would like to “bear arms” around the issue). And despite all the rhetoric the real issue is simply money. Because no one wanted taxes to increase and they thought that would be the end of it. But not so fast. The State isn’t accepting no for an answer. They have MANDATED the change, and as a result of the failed tax measure now each property owner will have pick up the cost of their conversion to the tune of $4,000 per household. But that just connects them to the new sewer system. Additional costs will come from dealing with the cleanup of their no longer in use septic facilities. These folks can wave the American flag all they want, but they’d better start saving and cleaning up their poop.
I do wonder if the groundwater will be found to be more contaminated than originally thought. Or if the removal of old septic tanks might just involved more “spill” than cleanup. A bunch of smartass somebodies are going to try to get away with just releasing their filth into the ground. The more I think about it, the more that snow looks delicious. Snow cones anyone? How about some rainwater iced tea?
Luckily when I’ve lost my faith in humanity Phoenix always puts things back into perspective. He had never seen snow before. He was ready to check it out. He is a curious one, but he’s also prone to chills and I’m not sure he looks forward to the next snowstorm. However, sweet prince that he is, he agreed to pose for a picture and was able to leave at least three of his feet on the cold ground for the photo. And I think he actually enjoyed the experience. One of the things he could cross off his “bucket list.”