Pamela Zwehl-Burke

River's end

The beach at the end of Ocean Avenue

The beach at the end of Ocean Avenue, where there is also a park with scopes for viewing the estuary, has sealed off the flow. No riverwater reaches the ocean at this season {and the Snowy Plovers rule that curve of the beach -- no walking, no sand castles, no fishing until October, when the birds are fledged}. The Santa Ynez River is as wide as a lake at this point.

4x6" Gouache on Arches Board

4x6" Gouache on Arches Board

Where the beach is blocked, pilings stand guard.

59a32cc5ac48b30001739b28_Image 1.jpg

Where the plovers are nesting, salt water roars in and river water pools, deep and seemingly serene, not going anywhere until the sand washes away. The waters are distinctly different in color, even on this overcast late July morning.

4x6" Gouache on Arches Board

4x6" Gouache on Arches Board

Even in late July....

Lompoc's flower fields blaze.

Even in late July, Lompoc's flower fields blaze. The river has provided water for agriculture over many years.

The Lompoc Valley is said to have the most temperate climate on earth when it comes to agriculture. This is borne out by its history. It was the greatest apple growing region in the world around 1900. It also has been the major growing area for mustard seed, cherries, sugar beets and flowers.
— Lompoc Mural Society
597fea071554520001cef775_IMG_0945.jpg

Following the River Bed

"what had been dust and dry weeds was flush with water -- reflecting an early sun on its surface"

Handbuilt Crossing

Handbuilt Crossing

When the rains came in late January, I could no longer follow the riverbed in Solvang and Buellton by walking over cracked soil, rough stones and what looked like vast fields of paper pulp.  So I hiked on the shoreline, east and then west of Alisal Bridge, where someone had made a beautiful curving "dam," single large stones across the small span of the river.

From the Santa Rosa Road Bridge in Buellton, what had been dust and dry weed was flush with water -- reflecting an early sun on its surface.

From Alisal Bridge, After the Rains

From Alisal Bridge, After the Rains

Grove at the River

Grove at the River