I moved to Southern California a little over eleven years ago, and still remember that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I first arrived. I had grown up in North Carolina, and then spent several years in the SF Bay Area before shooting down the I-5 overnight to my new home. I felt like I had arrived on the set of a postapocalyptic movie as we drove past the dust-dry and barren hillsides of San Diego in July.
Since then, I've grown to appreciate the beauty of the desert. The eager burst of new growth after the first rain of autumn, the lushness of restful winter, the hopeful persistence of green into spring. But there is no denying that we live in a dry, dry climate, and it's up to us to be responsible in how water is used.
The Irish Boxer Husband likes to say that our home looked like a Costa Rican rainforest when we moved in. He might be exaggerating a bit -- he is known to do that -- but I do remember the freshly sodded lawn that was green even in September, the slopes completely overrun with groundcover, and trees like the alder in our backyard that seemed curiously happy, given that they're native to soggy riverbanks. Hmmm.
Bit by bit, we've been tearing out unfriendly groundcover and thirsty grass. We've still got two large areas of lawn, but expanded the patio with DG, put in a totally drought-tolerant bed out front, and have been running enough drip irrigation all over to wrap three times around the block if all the tubing was laid out end-to-end.
We've been here just over a year now, and the most recent water bill showed me just how much of a difference we've been able to make in our own water consumption despite watering a lot of new fruit trees and planting beds. While I still envy those who live in a climate where they don't have to be quite so strategic with water usage, I'm proud of just how far we've come.