Here comes the sun

Because we live off the grid, people seem to think we live in a shack without modern conveniences. Totally not true, but we do have to be frugal with our energy usage. On sunny days, we can turn on all sorts of appliances at the same time, allowing me to vacuum and wash clothes while we brew coffee, heat stuff in the microwave, watch TV, and surf the Web. If it’s raining and my husband calls from the living room to ask if I’m trying to warm something in the microwave while he’s waiting for the coffee maker to finish brewing his coffee, I quickly stop the microwave so he won’t feel compelled to “remind” me again that such an act of sabotage against our solar system could render us powerless.

Oh yeah. No talk about rain. This column is about sunshine. Our drive to Cambria takes about 30 minutes when the weather is good. Since I ride shotgun on the way to work, I am especially grateful for the sunny days when I can get out of the Jeep to unlock and open the ranch gate without getting drenched and muddy. Getting to work on time on rainy days depends on the hazards we might encounter— downed trees, mudslides or swollen creek crossings that totally block our way or make us think twice about trying to proceed through the obstruction. I don’t relish arriving at work late or looking like I’ve come directly from a dip in the ocean, so sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, as John Denver so aptly put it.

In spite of the minor inconveniences of rainy days in the backcountry, I plan to luxuriate in every one of them that is still out there waiting to surprise us this spring. Thinking about rain makes me feel sunny all over.

Ijust love when it rains like mad here in Cambria’s backcountry. Spatters on the windows turn to rivulets and drops on the patio become tiny rivers. The wind blows water rings around the house and makes the giant oaks do their rain dance.

Rain has been big news this year on the Central Coast. So far, we have received 46 inches at our house — 16 inches more than all of last year, with at least a few more storms on the horizon. It’s our

biggest rain year since the winter of 2004-2005. However, I fear you may be getting weary of rain stories, so it might be time to explore the other side of the weather coin — sunshine.

Our backcountry life is perhaps more impacted by weather than in town (except when Cambria pines fall on houses and power lines), because we are off the grid and rely on solar power for our electricity. We celebrate our unlimited power on sunny days by washing clothes and then hanging everything outside to dry naturally in the sun. That’s been a bit of a trick this winter with the endless round of storms. My laundry basket is usually bulging halfway out of the closet by the time I get a clear

day. Oops. Sorry. I didn’t mean for this to be about rain.

Marcia Rhoades lives in Cambria’s Santa Lucia Mountain community. E-mail her at jmrhoades

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