Kage Baker loved the change of the seasons. Despite being a native Californian – and an Angelena, at that – she maintained that we had the same seasons as anywhere else in the country. Their markers were different and their timing is funny, but they’re all here.
She was aware of all the old jokes about LA having seasons of drought, flood, fire and riot; or of having no seasons at all: just a climate. She scorned such feeble and narrow-minded descriptions of our annual cycle here in the Valley of the Smoke; and the California in total is even more richly endowed than most of rest of the world. That business with the drought, flood, fire and riot? Those aren’t seasons. Those are just current events.
“In California,” Kage liked to point out, “we have all four seasons at the same time!”
Which is actually quite accurate: in a state a thousand miles long, divided 3 times lengthwise with mountains and edged with the largest body of water on Earth, with both the lowest point and the highest mountain in the contiguous United States – man, there’s every season imaginable going on somewhere all the time. It’s a rite pf passage for the young and athletic to go surfing and skiing on the same weekend – which is why we get excesses like naked snow boarding and shooting a curl in flannels and a muffler.
It’s downright easy, traversing 20 miles horizontally or half mile vertically, to go from summer to winter. We did it more than once, driving up from Los Angeles heat to a snow storm at the crest of the Grapevine. It’s why, the first time ever that Kage saw snow with her own eyes, she was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sandals – when we’d left the house, it was a summer 85 degrees, and sunny. And when we got back down to our own front porch, it was a wet Fall afternoon.
This week past, it has suddenly become autumn in Los Angeles. I am assuming that is why I am full of energy and eager to accomplish things: the harvest is due, the nights are chill, the air is old gold and blue smoke. Coming home from fetching my nephew home from school this evening, the air smelled of wood smoke and wet leaves and pumpkins – the classical smell of 3 days after Hallowe’en. Never mind that it was 90 at noon today: the night air was down in the 50s, and I needed socks for the first time in 6 months.
So today I packed extra socks, since I am heading North. Lots of socks. And jeans I can get paint on, and notebooks for maps of where the hell the furniture goes, and the good metal tape measure. I’ve packed my Buke, and a thumb drive shaped like a skeleton, and some knitting in case I have to sit and catch my breath. And an insulated coffee cup.
Because I’ll be in the Cow Palace, Dear Readers, setting up for Dickens Fair: and that place is one of the hidden houses of Winter; frost breeds there, the shadows are deep and blue with ice …
At dawn, the wild geese flew low over the house. I could hear their wing beats on the dark, cold air, between their bugled calls.
Every road in the world is shaking its mane in the wind, pawing the ground, calling out Let’s go!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, in the Autumn morning, we head North up I-5.
I like that – Those aren’t seasons. Those are current events.
Autumn is my favorite time of the year too. The air is fresh and bright; things look sharp in the autumnal light. We are very lucky to have been born here – and now we can realize why all those immigrants from Indiana, Wisconsin, New York come here – because somewhere in California is everyone’s bit of heaven even when they complain about the lack of color in our fall. That may be true, but midway through our fall, we get a week or so of summer to remind us why autumn is so damn wonderful.
On the other hand, we brave several hundred who started Dickens Fair workshops last weekend partially lose the joys of autumn when we jump into the Christmas holiday right after Halloween.
Hope to see you this weekend or next in our London.