What today Brings
“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
It was only weeks ago that the sun shone bright while the wind blew gusts of cool, fresh air across the yard, prompting singular leaves to drop from every direction. It felt new. It felt like everything was about to be new. Now the sky is a sheath of steely gloom for the third day in a row and still relentlessly emptying its buckets of colorless drudge over the town. This seems far too soon. On the other hand, I suppose it’s right on time according to the news. Hurricane Florence is terrorizing the Carolinas and causing massive flooding in our own back yard as well. The strangle hold on the atmosphere jeers that summer is over.
I adore a good rain, thunderstorms and ominous weather when full green trees blow hard, then harder, then so hard you have to take yourself inside even though it’s terribly exciting. This rain feels different. This rain feels dirty and makes one want to google seasonal affective disorder and see whether there is something wrong with us or if it’s just damn depressing for everything to be dark and soaking wet for days on end.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s come on a bit early. I appreciate Kentucky and four seasons after being out west for 20 years of year-round sunshine, but you would be mistaken if you think California doesn’t have very distinct seasons, subtle as they may seem to an outsider. What is so interesting is how completely different weather affects us all and it’s this time of year that it really seems to stir things up on both coasts. About now is when the mysterious Santa Ana Winds come blowing into the air, a hot and heavy continuous gust coursing through everything and everybody.
I remember like it was yesterday, the feeling of something brewing, the sky a dark hazy yellow and dust picking up at a desperate rate. I stood on the balcony in Beachwood Canyon and felt strangely communal that it was this same hot wind blowing into my Hollywood Hills apartment, the same molecules, dirt and leaves rustling up the road in Silverlake and down the road in Beverly Hills, soon every one of us would hear sirens. Raymond Chandler wrote of the Santa Ana’s “On nights like that, every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband’s necks. Anything can happen.”
Joan Didion wrote of this season, “Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Anna affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability.”
So, while we are in the thick of our own particular meteorological mood swing, we can remember everyone has them all year long. I suggest surrendering to nature. I suggest thanking God we are not begging for someone to come get us in a raft from our living room. I suggest candles, funny movies and always a good book. I’ll try to stay in today if you will, no need to fret about what is going to happen in March when we have four horrid… ahem… I mean, gloriously diverse, temperatures and levels of wet and dry to get there. I do know in spite of this sputtering to hold on to summer and a spring we barely had, there will be good times, laughter, and special memories even when it’s cold, unforgiving, and a steely shade of gray.