As this column gets written on Friday afternoon – the deadline for it to appear in the Wednesday, April 5 edition – the long range forecast calls for a slight chance of rain on Saturday, April 8. It doesn’t look like much and of course, could change between now as I write and when the column appears in the paper, but hopefully it will be a small amount, if any.
I say that because of a few events scheduled for Saturday, including the Love Escalon community service work day and the annual Oakdale PRCA Rodeo.
Escalon residents will join forces for a number of service projects, beautifying the community, delivering groceries to the elderly, doing yard work, conducting a food drive to benefit the local food bank, etc.
A little rain won’t stop those efforts and it’s always good to see the camaraderie of the work crews, young and old, coming together for a few hours that ultimately make a big difference.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (I mean the rodeo arena) the hope is that this year won’t be quite the washout it was in 2016. Over the six-plus decades that the rodeo has been held – most of that time hosted by the Oakdale Saddle Club – it has seen its fair share of wet weather, dry weather, the occasional near triple digit early spring heat wave, high winds … you get the idea.
The thing about rodeo is that they don’t care what the weather is; the show must go on. Last year, taking photos of the competition was actually kind of fun, once you got past blinking the water out of your eyes and learning when to duck and cover as the horses came galloping by or the bull that bucked off its rider came close to the photographer’s area kicking up its heels.
People outside the Golden State often think of us as nothing but beaches, the Golden Gate Bridge and Disneyland. Those of us who live here, especially in the Central Valley, know it has much more to offer than that.
From the heart-pounding excitement of the rodeo and all the entertainment the cowboys and cowgirls bring with them as they arrive in town to the Oakdale Chocolate Festival, Riverbank’s annual Cheese and Wine Expo and Escalon’s down home community reunion Park Fete, we have some unique events served up every year.
Plus we have access to what brings the tourists flocking to California, all within a few hours’ drive of the 209. You can hit San Francisco and the ocean a little to the west, the snow and mountains not far to the east, Disneyland a longer drive to the south but still less than a day away.
This past winter saw nearly double our normal rainfall, which, even though it created plenty of flooding problems in some areas of the state, was nonetheless needed to start pulling us out of our long-term drought conditions. It will likely take at least one more above average year to get us out of drought completely, but this winter was a good step in the right direction.
It reminds me of the weather year when I first traded in upstate New York for California’s Central Valley more than 20 years ago. My parents made a cross country trip, driving the bulk of my belongings out to me in May of that year, after I had flown out a few months prior. When they arrived, we took a sightseeing trip to Yosemite and ran in to snow flurries along the way, while also enjoying the magnificence of the gushing waterfalls inside the park itself. I was surprised to see snow in May, in California no less, but have since come to learn that pretty much, anything is possible. We had a saying where I grew up, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.”
That’s becoming a mantra we can also use here. Spring has so far brought us 80 degree days, rain, an occasional lightning strike, gusty winds that have prompted health warnings for higher than usual levels of aggravating particulate matter; never a dull moment.
Now let’s see if we get those April showers to bring the May flowers …
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.