Saturday, February 2, 2008

Winter in Southern California - No, Really

It's official - Punxsutawney Phil has spoken. Or rather, risen and shivered in the chill of the winter sun. To be fair, if a bunch of strange men in odd clothes and top hats yanked me from MY lair and held me up in the freezing, frigid, frozen freeze, I'd wish some nasty weather on them, too. What part of 'hibernation' don't they understand?
So Spring is sleeping in this year. Whatever will we do? As a kid in upstate New York, watching the Rose Parade on television was like peering into a weird wormhole of summer. Leaves on the trees on New Year's Day, flower petals everywhere, t-shirts while I was bundled in three layers of long underwear and staying warm by scraping the frost off the television set. More than anything, I wanted to ride my horse in January without worrying about getting her stuck in a snowdrift until Spring. In marvelous SoCal, shiny cowgirls with blinged-out saddles and matching ponies were ambling down Colorado Boulevard. No parkas, no mittens, no problem. Mecca.

Growing up in farm country, we had serious respect for the weather. We watched for cloudbursts that could ruin our hay crop, lightning that could fry our barn or little brother, and blizzards that could give us a day off from school. But Southern California had somehow tamed the weather, put it in its place and limited its play time to a few days a year. No snow days, although at times we can see the snow on the mountains. It's kept there all nice and tidy in case we want to visit it, a sort of petting zoo for weather. We do have 'smoke days' sometimes, when a fire comes close enough. A little harder to make a 'sootman,' though, especially in Santa Ana winds.

There are a few more drawbacks. With no real weather to speak of, it's a bit hard to start any decent small talk. For example:
Me- "Nice day, isn't it?"
Stranger- "It's Southern California. What did you expect?"

We have compensated for our weather shortcomings by developing a flair for the dramatic. Instead of 'rain,' we have 'torrential flooding.' 'Wind' translates to 'Santa Anas.' Instead of storms, we have 'weather events.' Try as I might, it's difficult to take seriously a weather warning that flashes INCREASING THREAT OF DRIZZLE, a real warning posted during our last 'weather event.'

I gleefully admit to channel surfing to see which network puts its news crew in the most ridiculous danger. "We're live, here at the scene of this potential weather event in Malibu where potential flooding is potentially imminent." Somehow standing near a puddle in raingear waiting for rain shouldn't be the lead story on any newscast. Do our local meteorologists get jealous of other areas that boast real storms and seasons? Weather-event envy may well be another tragic drawback of living here.

Being able to go outside and play ball nearly any dang day on the calendar takes a bit of the value out of it. Mowing grass in January can be so very tedious. Yes, I'm pouting. But I'm pouting in shorts.

Maybe I'll write this some other time. It's such a nice day outside. Again.


insomniac said...

i'm not sure i could go for the whole "it's so dry, a magnifying glass has to be registered as a concealed weapon" ,though...

tom said...

nice flip flops ann, they sure do match your snowperson tan.