Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Seasons

I've been talking a lot about the summery weather we've been having lately in L.A. In fact, I talk about the weather whenever it's particularly nice, don't I? It's not that I'm being smug, or trying to rub your faces in it, honest. It's just that I enjoy the weather so much, I drink it up and need to release some of that goodness somewhere.

There are plenty of people who don't like warm weather, who prefer the coolness of fall or the snowy slopes of winter, but I am not one of them. One of the main reasons I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco was the lure of the sun. One of the main reasons I moved to San Francisco after college was the lure of the sun. (I didn't realize, at the time, that San Francisco rarely gets above 70 degrees).

Honestly, I might even consider moving back to the East Coast, and certainly back to San Francisco, if not for the plethora of sunny 80 degree days without a hint of humidity that Los Angeles enjoys. The warmth makes me smile, makes me lean back my head and feel the rays wash over me, makes me glad to be alive. Of course there are all sorts of other reasons that I'm glad to be alive, but it's the warm sunny days that remind me of them. When it's cold and dreary, I feel cold and dreary too. If Hawaii weren't so far away from my family on the East Coast, and if the Caribbean had an economy where my husband could transfer his job to, we'd move in a millisecond. I'd like nothing more than to throw away all my sweaters and long pants.

There is one thing that I miss about the weather back home, though, and it's exactly what you'd expect: the seasons. Now, people who grew up in California like to say that here, too, there are seasons-- but they only say that because they have no idea what a real season is. In case you are not aware, let me outline for you the typical seasons on the Westside of Los Angeles (within a few miles of ocean.)

Spring: Early March to July 1. Temperatures that range from 60 to 80, averaging around 75. Mostly sunny, with the chance of rain before June. June is generally slightly grey due to fog (which they call "marine layer" here, or, alternatively, "June gloom"). Often it burns off by early afternoon.

Summer: July 1 to end October. Temperatures from 65 to 85, getting hotter as you get into September and October (this is called Indian Summer, and sometimes it gets up to 90.) Mostly sunny, no rain.

Fall. End October to End November. Still sunny, but cooler, temperatures ranging from 55 to 75. It may start raining a bit in November.

Winter. December to February. Mostly sunny with some rain. Temperatures from low 50s to low 70s, averaging around 60 or 65.

Now, to me, 60 degrees is cold. In fact, 70 degrees is cold to me. And I should mention that even in the middle of summer or Indian summer, no matter how hot it is during the day, by 7pm it has cooled off completely, to 60 at the warmest. No hot sticky nights, although it is true that when the Santa Ana winds blow, sometimes we'll get a balmy 70 degree evening. Rare, though.

Since there is no frost, many yards sport plants that flower all year long, or at the very least, have no deciduous season. Many (most?) of the trees that you see do not lose their leaves in the winter, and only a few sprout flowers in the spring. You are more likely to see the mostly all year blooming bouganvilla than a dogwood or cherry blossom. I'm not sure if this is true, being a black thumb myself*, but it seems to me that the trees are smaller in California--shorter anyway, and the leaves are not nearly as dense. Perhaps this is because non-deciduous trees grow this way? I don't know.

The point is--you don't get the sudden burst of flowers and green leaves here that you get on the East Coast in the spring. You don't get the huge canopies of dark green leaves in July and August, you don't get the beautiful yellow leaves of a stately elm (Elm? Oak?) tree in October. You certainly don't get bulb flowers: crocuses, daffodils, tulips. None of the signs of spring from my childhood exist in California. (Well, okay, I'm sure they exist--somebody here has planted them, as I'm sure they'd grow here, but you just don't see them very often.) No yellow walls of forsythia, no pink and white honeysuckle.

Along with that, you don't get the smells of the season, and this is what I miss the most. You don't get the first crisp August evening that suddenly smells like Halloween. You don't get the first whiff of grass from a lawn mower to make you think of baseball. No freesia to remind you of Easter. Certainly no smell of wood burning in a fireplace to remind you that it's Christmas.

Now, all you local readers are rolling your eyes at me, but stop. I'm sure if you moved coasts, there would be flowers you would miss too: for example, there is no eucalyptus back there, no Redwood, no California poppy. I will grant you that. Still, it's not quite the same, because you don't use plants the same way out here, you don't use them to mark the seasons, to note your life passing by. We have basically the same plants blooming in our yard all year long--yes, in the spring more of them flower, but I have something flowering out there all the time. In fact, most of our garden looks the same whether it is May or November.

So when I talk to my mom and she tells me that the dogwoods are blooming, that the birds are chirping and that it is glorious outside, and I can hear the "spring" in her tone, I miss it. I miss looking out the window after a long cold winter, realizing that spring has arrived, and feeling the way it lifts your spirits--just the witnessing of it, this birth of a season.

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*I may have all the names of flowers wrong in this post--truly I know nothing of flowers and I am only using the words my mother used in my childhood; I could easily have mixed them up.

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isimsiz kahraman said...
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