It has come to my attention from a number of sources that you are experiencing some exceedingly warm temperatures this weekend. Beach weather is predicted to be sunny and warm with temperatures in the upper 70s. I just want you to know that we east-coasters are suffering with you in spirit. While you are forced to bask in the harsh sunlight, our winter will be just beginning to change course. The subfreezing temperatures we’ve been experiencing for weeks on end will begin to inch up above the freezing point, the mercury rising into the 40s and even the 50s, hinting that in the not too distant future, spring is on it’s way.
What’s spring, you ask? Forgive me. Though I lived out there for nearly twenty years, I sometimes forget that you don’t have spring in Southern California. I suppose if you’ve never had it, you don’t know what you are missing–like those people who’ve never tasted chocolate. Except that spring is infinitely better than chocolate. There’s nothing like arising out your winter hibernation, buried in snow and cold, cheeks freezing in the morning commute, to that first sunny day of spring: the sun is radiant, blinding in the clear blue sky (yes skies are actually blue my friends, despite what you see overhead). The air loses its chill. For the first time, you can feel warmth on your skin as you step outside. You can feel it on your bare arms and your cheeks. It is invigorating.
And the smells in the air! It’s the scent of new life. Of leaves forming on trees, of flowers blooming, of mulch and soil and nitrogen all packaged into a crisp freshness. Twenty years in Los Angeles and I never experienced a smell like that. Olfactory heaven.
There is a day when you know that winter is nearly over and spring is approaching. It is the day you wake to the sound of birds chirping. In the winter you don’t notice it at first but the birds go away, the mornings are dark and silent, but as spring approaches, the birds begin to sing as the first sunlight begins to brighten the eastern horizon. And then one day, you hear the warm rumble of a lawnmower engine early in the morning and you know that spring has practically arrived.
Without winter, none of this is possible. Without the snow and the wind and the cold and the ice; without the shoveling and scraping and school closures it is impossible to appreciate the spring. Even when winters have been particularly bad, the springs that follow them always make the winters worthwhile.
So my heart goes out to you, my poor, suffering friends and family in Southern California. You don’t have a winter and therefore don’t have a spring. You can’t know the beauty of it, can’t revel in the ecstasy of the season. All you have is a bland sameness where winter, spring, summer and fall merely mark off time, divide the calendar into four equal parts. To me that is painfully sad.