We’ve switched states a few times in the last year, and it’s not over yet. Which is great. I love adventure, and I love all the places I’ve lived.
But California holds a very special place in my heart. In honor of this momentous occasion, (me being home) I thought I’d share a little about the lovely Southern California seasons.
Oh, but California doesn’t have seasons, I hear you saying.
Let me clear this up: the presence of gorgeous 70-80 degree weather throughout the year does not mean we don’t have seasons.
It just means we have gorgeous seasons.
The Lovely Southern California Seasons
Autumn in California brings back cozy memories from my childhood, and it is usually the first season I defend. People from elsewhere visit Southern California during the fall and lament that there are no changing colors, no autumn storms. And I tell them: we have autumn. It’s the way the light looks.
The way the light looks on a balmy October day makes me want to dress in shades of cranberry-wine, and makes me miss the pumpkin chocolate-chip bread that was warm and waiting for us after school growing up.
The way the light looks on a fall California afternoon tells me it’s time to make applesauce and homemade chai, amp up the koselig, and enjoy the lengthening evenings with my family.
Of course, with enough of the said purple clothes, applesauce and chai, you can pretend for it to be autumn whenever you want, but I’ve experienced that definite change, walking home from work, where all of a sudden it is autumn. No matter how warm and sunny the day was, that afternoon-evening light man, it tells you it’s autumn.
Winter in SoCal is marked by rain, though the drought these years has stretched the days between storms. I don’t need to tell you how cozy a rainy afternoon can be, no matter how often they do or don’t come!
The days after a storm, when it does roll through, are for hiking under magnificent skies, the blue claiming its rightful territory as big, bright clouds slowly float away.
Even when the rain is late, the nightime hum of fans in the orchards, to keep the trees from freezing, lets you know that winters gets chilly here, too.
Spring is always lovely, but especially so after a few good rains. The hills turn green again, and they explode with yellow mustard and patches of golden poppies. Last year I had to stop myself from pulling over to pick flowers by the roadside every afternoon on my way home from work. Sometimes a few gentle rains continue into early spring, enhancing the abundant blooms.
Last night, as we drove into the valley and out of the desert, we rolled down our car windows and inhaled the fresh air. I can’t tell you how amazing it smelled, carrying the scent of blossoms from the orchards. Again this morning, I stepped outside into the fresh, cool day, and breathed deeply.
You really have to experience this smell for yourself.
And the jasmine too, if you happen to walk by a bush…mmmmmmm.
Summer is surely what everyone thinks about when they picture Southern California seasons, or lack thereof. The June gloom always burns off by noon, to a sun that feels like a hug from God.
Besides the beach weather extraordinaire, there are little things too that signal summer: the funny hooting call of the doves in the morning, (if they’re doves, I actually don’t know) and the smell of the dusty dry dirt and brush.
Yes, California gets brown in the summer. At first it feels sad, especially after a lovely spring, but the dryness holds its own special beauty.
Dana Gioia says it best:
California Hills in August
I can imagine someone who found
these hills unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.
An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.
One who would hurry over the clinging
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
knowing everything was just a weed,
unable to conceive that these trees
and sparse brown bushes were alive.
And hate the bright stillness of the noon
without wind, without motion,
the only other living thing
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
in the blinding, sunlit blue.
And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain –
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.
– Dana Gioia
Thank you, God, for Southern California.
For the record, I love crunching through snow, skiing over snow, and waking up to the quiet of snow. I love the vastness and openness of the Rocky’s and the West. Autumn colors are quite pretty, if I do say so. But I can drive up the 395 if I need a little snow, and the ocean is definitely vast and open. A few of our trees even turn bright orange around January.
I don’t mean to say that living in California is anything like living in Wyoming or Maine, and I don’t think everyone would or should prefer it.
I’m just really glad it’s here, and that it is exactly how it is.
And don’t you dare tell me we don’t have any seasons.
Love your state?? Rep it in the comments. 🙂