Commentary: Commentary: A dry gully is transformed into a 20-foot waterfall on road to Mt. Lukens

Recent rains turned an otherwise dry hillside along the trail to Mt. Lukens into the site of a 20-foot waterfall.
(Courtesy of Reg Green)

You could walk past a small gully burrowing into the hillside beside the dirt road to Mt. Lukens in the Angeles National Forest and scarcely notice it. If you did, you would see only that, instead of the low bushes that cover everything else in sight, it is home to large deciduous trees indicating that somewhere unseen is a water source.

It usually doesn’t look wet. Instead, after five years of rainfall at half the normal level, it has been dry as a bone, like something time forgot. The forest doesn’t get much rain at the best of times — with the near-desert of Los Angeles to the south and the full-out desert of the Mojave to the north — but after six years of drought it is a tinder box, as the recent largest fires in California’s history attest.

So heavy has the rainfall been this month, however, that the dry gully has turned into a small but urgent torrent, producing at its end a 20-foot waterfall where all plant life has received enough encouragement to face another five years of drought if necessary.

Nature corrects its imbalances like the stock market does, too far one way, followed by too far the other, though returning in the long run to the mean. It is one of life’s little cruelties that, after a shower following a long dry spell, the woods are full of the happy chirping of birds, whose prayers for rain have been answered, gorging themselves on worms who have come out of their holes to enjoy the rain because their prayers have been answered too.

Reg Green lives in La Cañada. His latest book is “90 And Not Dead Yet.”