Tag Archives: weather

Happy Earth Day to You

IMG_0239“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Ruskin

I am apparently not immune from turning into my parents.

Neither of my parents grew up in the age of television but once cable television arrived in their adult years they agreed on a favorite hangout: The Weather Channel. Now boys and girls this was back in the day when The Weather Channel spent most of its time reporting on the weather and therefore before tantalizing shows with titles like “Natural Born Monsters” and “Storm Riders” and “Weather Geeks.” No, it was pretty much all-day weather forecasts and updates, and for the life of me I could not understand why my parents would care about dew points and barometric pressure and precipitation levels. I preferred going outside where there was actual weather to analyzing the hourly forecast.

Now, it is me. No, the background noise of my life is not The Weather Channel. What I do is check the weather on my iPhone a million times each day. Hot or cold, sunshine or rain, calm or wind—I suddenly seem to care.

Our move to The South is partly to blame for the marked increase in said weather-checking because Southern California weather is, in a word, predictable, while Tennessee weather is anything but. I knew this in my little brain before arriving, having spent the first three decades of my life in similar conditions, but coastal living for the past two decades created a form of amnesia that I am working to overcome.

So maybe it is simply that I now need to know when to carry an umbrella. But maybe I am learning to care more about the beauty of our natural world?

Today is Earth Day, an annual day to draw our attention to nature and remember our collective responsibility to take good care of this planet we call home. Earth Day began the year I was born, and although much good work has occurred in my lifetime, it is apparent that revolutionary action is required to provide the care necessary for sustaining this big, beautiful world. I want to care more about that and care less about things far less important.

I grew up caring primarily about sports. And then I grew interested in the news. And now I prefer the weather. It could be that I am finally growing up.

June Gloom

The cool temperature is what tourists find most surprising about Malibu weather.  I blame the Beach Boys: Good Vibrations did not imply that it would ever be your teeth chattering.  Now don’t get me wrong, the weather is heaven here—just heaven with a light jacket for the evenings.

Those who visit Malibu in June are surprised to hear locals describe the entire month as June Gloom, an unflattering name for a weather pattern that occurs when a marine layer produces overcast conditions that typically give way to sunny skies in the late afternoon.

Here is what cracks me up.  On, say, May 31, or, let’s say, July 1, we locals don’t know what to do with overcast skies.  Oh, the weather nerds will claim May Gray, but the rest of us say, What’s up with this weather?  We expect nothing but blue skies on our Memorial Day and Independence Day parties!  But if the calendar happens to say June, we all declare in definite tones: Of course, June Gloom.

June has developed such a negative reputation.

This makes me wonder about my own personal weather reputation, but if you want to play along, you can wonder about yours, too.  There are people in the world whose gloomy condition is to be expected, and there are others who are shockingly out of character when in a grumpy sort of mood.  What do people expect from me?

In Malibu, people anticipate gloom when June arrives.  I’d like folks to expect something better from me.

You Can’t Control the Weather

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A Malibu winter is, well, two mismatched words, yet visitors throughout the year often find the weather cooler than expected in this famous little town. I mostly blame the Beach Boys for misrepresentation. Still, the weather is pretty great, and in January you have to get past the general sunshine and spectacular sunsets just to imagine cold and dreary.

But we saw a lot of snow on our cross-country flight last weekend, and when we hit the Rocky Mountains (metaphorically, thank God), the aerial view was breathtaking and demanded an iPhone picture attempt through a dirty window at however many thousand feet. Thankfully, iPhones apparently know everything and mine let me know that I took the picture (above) in Fort Garland, Colorado. This thriving metropolis has a population of four hundred (or eight hundred for about fifteen seconds when our plane passed overhead).

Winter can be spectacular, but I remember enough from past lives to know that winter can also be a pain, and the bitter and numbing kind. Life is like that, too: spectacular at moments, and bitter at others.

Emily Dickinson presumably looked out her window once and wrote:

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

That Emily Dickinson sure had a way with words. Nature has its glorious days, but it has its bad days, too, complete with mean clouds and complaining winds. As do we.

Today may be one of your glorious days, but then again, odds are that it could just as well be a day when you misplaced your diadem (editorial note: not a dirty reference if diadem is new to you, but it sort of sounds like it, doesn’t it?).

Good days come and go, just like the weather, and much of that is out of our control.

How we choose to respond is not.

Facing the Wind

“There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air this afternoon, some unnatural stillness, some tension. What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio passes, blowing up sandstorms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to the flash point.”
– Joan Didion, “Los Angeles Notebook.”

I am not a fearful person, but there is something ominous about the Santa Ana winds. Lying in the darkness, listening to them howl, trying without success to keep the curtains flailing about the room from disturbing a good night’s sleep. In essence, they are predictable hot and dry winds that blow through each autumn, but they seem to be more. They inspire authors and lyricists.¹ Some call them the devil winds.

In a word, they threaten. They famously threaten to spread a catastrophic wildfire across the parched region, but they also threaten to rearrange your house, deck, yard, and day; fell trees; nudge cars from lane to lane; and even produce a bad hair day or so I’ve been told.

I don’t care for them. I don’t like anything that threatens to disrupt order.

I’m not a big fan of helplessness either, and the Santa Ana winds are rather difficult to punch in the face. Or, easy, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect. The winds are the outlaw bandits blowing into town to wreak havoc on the village, and you are the cowering villagers, hoping behind barricaded doors for a fearless sheriff or The Magnificent Seven.

Okay, a little melodramatic, sure, but in the middle of the night when the winds howl, the apprehension is real.

And yet, even this is good.

I am not a fan of helplessness or disruption (in fact, I have a teensy control problem), and yet in so many ways I am helpless, and disruption is inevitable. The Santa Ana winds remind me of these truths and teach me to trust and stand fast and bend with the breeze and endure.

John Ruskin put it best: “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

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¹ In between the Star of David and the California moon
The Santa Ana winds blew warm into your room
– Elton John, Mansfield