Kage Baker loved tropical weather. She loved it especially when it began to threaten storms – heat, and a touch of humidity; thunderheads evolving above the mountains like djinni just released from their bottles. A hint of weird green glass in the light, and a suggestion of orchids perfuming the wind.
These days happened from time to time in Pismo, when the breath of the Pacific blowing in our faces would suddenly come straight from Tahiti. Kage would dance in delight as the warm wind gusted through the windows, and the living room filled with the scent of roses from our garden. She’d put El Amor Brujo on the CD player, turn it up loud, and sing along in idiomatic Spanish.
We’d usually end up down at Fin’s, which stood right on the literal edge of the sand where Grand Avenue ran into the sea. Ghost winds of sand rush across the parking lot there, writing myths on the old concrete in white glyphs. There are life-sized pirate statues in the entrance-way, and they serve enormous turquoise cocktails in giant martini glasses. I don’t know quite what they were – they were made with Blue Curacao and were deadly sweet – but after two of them, Kage’s eyes would light up like tiki torches and she’d start spinning tales about pirates, or the sorcerer Gard. Gard was born in thunder-weather like that.
This kind of weather is even rarer in Los Angeles. It’s true we have an ocean on one edge, and the L.A. Basin fills with fog and marine phenomena easily: but thunderstorms threaten very seldom, and usually fail of their promise. Thunderheads form over the eastern mountains and the desert breathes all heavy on us – but it usually all drifts away, leaving the city sprawled hot and unsatisfied.
Sometimes, though, summer storms follow through. It actually happened a lot when we were kids, and then the cycle changed – since then, Los Angeles has apparently forgotten what it’s like to have a hot storm bear down on us. The weather girls are bugling soprano alarms on the evening news, and predicting the End Times … but it’s happened before. Even though we are Los Angeles. It’s only a bit of rain.
We’ve had a small spate of them lately, though only the hills are getting any rain – but it’s been enough for flash flood warnings, which would have amused Kage no end. Flash flood warnings in July! She’d be watching the thunderheads rising up the arch of the sky right now, and praying for lightning. And, you know, the wind is rising quite a bit around here; the air is wet and sweet, the light is going verdigreen. The summer heat – it’s almost 90 degrees, even here in the lee of Griffith Park – presses on all your limbs like a sleeping lover, and the only way to survive is to get your hair off the back of your neck anyway you can: combs, knitting needles, persuading Harry to sit up top and hang on to it …
We may have weather yet.