The signs of new life abound in fall in Southern California. These are slightly green lemons on my backyard lemon tree in Temple City.
THREE nights ago, my wife ran into the kitchen to tell me that the weather machine atop my dresser showed a cloud with a lightning bolt — coming out of Wednesday! Then, when Wednesday arrived, the rain indicator was … gone. Erased. No more angry cloud. No bolt of lightning. Just a partially obscured sun. It was like those obnoxious California Raisins had hacked into my high-tech weather gauge.
I drew open the vertical blinds in our bedroom and ta-da: Sunlight!
It’s hard keeping track of the weather in the fall. I mean, for us mortals, I can’t speak for Fritz or Dallas. Do I wear a sweater? Corduroy pants? Cotton or wool? Should I pack sunscreen or lip balm? Sunglasses or an umbrella? Argh! This is as unpredictable as Mike Tyson’s next move.
I’ve become convinced that this weather confusion is the result of an East Coast media bias. We live in a semi-arid region (near a desert) yet we live by an East Coast/Midwest weather script of falling leaves, cool winds and soaking storms.
Well, it ain’t gonna happen.
Here, fall is more about clear skies and warm temperatures. It’s about Santa Ana winds that blast in from the desert, whip wildfires into a Milton-esque vision of Hades, and chap our lips until they’re raw. According to Joe Cassmassi, meteorologist and planning and rules manager with the AQMD, we won’t see the rapid movement from summer to fall as in the East and Midwest. “It’s a Mediterranean type climate,” he said. “More like no coat to light coat.”
Then why do department store ads bombard us with sweater-wearing mannequins and scenes from winter wonderlands? If I see another cold and flu commercial where the flu sufferer struggles to get in out of the cold, damp air I’m going to toss my box of Kleenex at the telly. Tell those advertising “mad men” that as a Californian, I suffered with a head cold three weeks ago during 90-degree weather! You start to think: I shouldn’t be sick, this isn’t “flu weather.” Great, now the entire advertising industry is making me feel guilty because I have a cold!!
They do the same thing to holidays.
Wal-Mart is pummeling West Coast viewers with images of grandpa decorating the tree while grandma stirs a waiting cup of hot cocoa. This is not true for 38 million Californians. So get it off my TV. Do marketers think us on the West Coast have eaten so much turkey that we are too drugged to figure out we’re not in Kansas?
Thanksgiving may have been about pilgrims and Native Americans breaking bread in the dim, cold Massachusetts climate, but here, it ain’t dim and it ain’t cold, not even on Nov. 26.
Hence, families and friends should do sunny and warm things on Thanksgiving. I’ve made it a tradition to play tennis every Thanksgiving morning — outdoors. When I couldn’t find a partner one year, I went for a bicycle ride. A colleague last year deep fried his turkey. Another co-worker always has a balcony party with a barbecued bird and potato salad. An oh yeah, instead of wool vests and corduroy pants, everyone wears shorts, Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops.
I looked out our bedroom window yesterday morning and saw the neighbor’s grapefruit tree weighed down with globs of succulent citrus — big green melons turning yellow and thriving. The new bougainvillea in our front yard is finally in bloom. And the apple tree has new green shoots.
Fall? Dead leaves? Barren trees? Think again.
Now, if I could just have an accurate Southern California weather gauge. And a season with an apt name. I’m thinking, instead of fall, let’s call it “dry” or “post summer.” What would you call it?