Lake Hodges has never been innocent.

It began when a dam was erected on the San Dieguito River; created with cement and wire and the desires of a rapidly growing human population. The river continued past the dam, still, on its ocean-bound path, but now the water reached the obstacle and spread, drowning that which lied beneath, that which could not run.

There was nowhere to go.

But then there was water where there had not been before, water for the birds and people and plants which thrived with this newly formed aquatic being.

As long as the rain kept coming.

Despite our green lawns and herb gardens, we are a land of chaparral and fire and succulents, and the rain does not always come. Days and weeks and months will go by, maybe, of sun and sky and bright, dry air, and faucets and hoses and sprinklers are here to oblige those lawns and gardens. But.

The weather does not oblige the lake.

Where the 15 crosses the lake, or it crosses the 15, the lake is never very deep. Those whose daily path takes them over that so-human span of concrete and metal look to the east and watch as the water turns strange, and muddy, and gone. Going south they see, west, the lake, deeper, disappearing into the hills. When the rain stops, or does not come as often as the lake would like, they watch the waters pull back, and back, and back. The lake bed lies uncovered. Grass and weeds appear first, scavengers of moisture, and then trees, real trees, begin to grow, with branches and twigs and leaves.

But the rain does not come.

The soil dries out and the rain does not come and the trees, which stretch their branches skyward for relief, for rain or drizzle or a fog to gather as droplets on twigs or dampen the soil, find only. Silence. And. The lake returns. To wash around what is no longer truly there. Sapless, lost, what remains still reaches, still pleads.

Lake Hodges has never been innocent.



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