Above we see remnants of a passing midwinter storm. Below, the flooded rice paddies stretch as far as the eye can see.
Covering the riverbanks is this new grass. Green only from winter to spring, it roasts to golden brown by summertime. Dew, not characteristic in this arid climate, holds to the undisturbed blades. In a few weeks, goats will be called in to keep the growth at bay, and you'll hear the tinkle of the bells about their necks.
Bordering many of the Delta roads you find Oak, Aspen, Cottonwood, and Laurel trees. Although many of the trees loose their leaves in the winter, here and there you can see a splash of green. It's mistletoe: an invasive species common in these parts.
On the Edge
On the Delta, farmers grow anything from corn and tomatoes, to grapes and pears. There has been a renaissance in recent years; a rekindling to connect with our agricultural roots. Although farming has never been easy, the slow pace of life on the river makes it seem as though cares merely float away.
On a clear day, you can see from the California Coast Range to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Some find the flatness oppressive. Others find it liberating. The beauty is best observed at sunrise and sunset. Then, mist, shadows and light turn it into a mystical world.
End of the Day
In the winter time the Sacramento River swells from the rain and the snow in the mountains being washed down to San Francisco Bay. Although the surface may seem tranquil, beneath the water flows swift, strong and cold. Large trees are swept along, making it dangerous for ships to traverse the waters.
Kawamura Barber Shop
Established in 1916, the Kawamura Barber Shop is one of the oldest buildings in Walnut Grove. Nao Kawamura ran the barbershop for decades. Although it stands vacant, it seems that at any moment the lights will turn on and a customer with a freshly-trimmed head will appear from behind the white door.
The town of Walnut Grove is a tight, self-contained remnant of a bustling community. One of half was designated for the Japanese community, the other for the Chinese. The historic divide was at "C Street." One side was full of Chinese shops, the other Japanese. This sign alludes to the continuing divide.
The rust to this building exemplifies the aesthetic, nostalgia and melancholy air to the region.
These pastel buildings with their bright tiles and showcase windows were built during a time of prosperity. Nowadays they find a new life as art galleries, iron works and restaurants. Even on grey days, their appearance lends a sense of whimsy to the scene.
The Heart of the Community
Beyond the orange and Cyprus trees lies a stately old building now falling into disrepair. It was once the Japanese Presbyterian Church, one of the most important institutions in the town (after the Buddhist church, of course) for the Japanese community. Inside the pews, large kitchen and built-in accommodations remain intact. However, due to a burst water pipe, you find the plaster heaving and the dust settling. Perhaps, after not too long, it will be reborn.
Roughly twenty feet high (or more in some places) the levee contains the powerful Sacramento River. Almost out of place in this nostalgic town, the steps represent the continued investment and interest in the community.
Sloping up to the levee, this old factory boasts a bright cerulean red wall. The pride in the Japanese ancestry remains strong here, even today, as a mural depicting Mt. Fuji and blossoms scatter across the scene.
This old chalk board once hung in the Japanese Language School, a building now used as a community center. Written here is the last lesson ever taught.
Fog comes quickly and quietly to the Delta in the autumn and winter. One moment the sky can be bright and blue, the next grey and mysterious. The region is subject to two types of fog--ocean and ground. In the summer, fog from the San Francisco Bay sweeps into the valley, bringing cooling winds and a respite from the heat. In winter, fog forms on clear nights, as the warm ground creates condensation with the cold night air. Usually the fog begins around sunset and lingers until mid-morning. However, some years the fog can reach as high as a mile up and even though no rain is expected in the forecast, the sky can be grey for days. Named after the Tule Reeds that grow in the region, it is a unique facet to the Central Valley. Here you see a particularly fast approach of ground fog enveloping the trees which serve as a wind breaker for this field.