autumnal progression - l.a. style
On the first day of autumn, Nature channels a hot flash through Los Angeles. Temperatures in the Valley escalate to 104 degrees. Bathwater-warm ocean waves in Venice swirl around the beachgoers' ankles. Agua Dulce and Valencia hoist red flags to ward off brush fires.
The trees (except for those infamous palms) have held onto their foliage long enough. Their fifteen minutes of fame have ended. Leaves are shed, falling into dry gutters, not even allowed the opportunity for a gradual deepening into the dignified colors of crimson, gold and amber.
Shoppers gaze through mall windows with a mixture of incredulity and amusement at headless mannequins dressed in wool caps and pea coats. Their sweaty ecru throats glisten under klieg lights. The stylish fads of 5th Avenue are juxtaposed against the tank-topped and Bermuda shorts clad consumers. This phenomenon generates a sudden unemployment spike among junior marketing executives.
The evenings are bearable. One can sleep with the windows open, and the fan blowing at low speed. How much sleep depends on how much noise comes from the alleyway; firecrackers are set off by late-night pranksters at 11:48 pm, a Harley Davidson roars by at 3:29 am, and a trash truck empties dumpsters at 5:44 am-one minute before the alarm goes off.
Traffic increases in both directions on I-10. On the eastern side, the industry folk slowly motor toward Culver City, Hollywood, and Burbank. Corporate drones and university students crawl onward to Century City, Westwood (home of the Bruins), and Santa Monica. Streams of hip-hop and talk-radio pour out of windows and weave into the smog, slowing down the motorists' synapses and clogging radiators.
As days pass, the heat dissipates. Evenings in Echo Park become cool enough for couples to put their arms around each other as they stroll around the lake path. Small children wake up in the morning with the same question: How can it be time to get up, it's still dark outside?
Russet potatoes, ears of corn and Red Delicious apples increase in number at all the Farmer's Markets. Fantasy football is reborn. Time takes a step back, and shadows begin to lengthen precisely at 2 pm.
Sweaters make their debut on Halloween night along with ghoul and goblin costumes. Marigold petals flutter to the ground in the wake of calacas dancing around ofrendas during Dia De Los Muertos.
An hour from L.A. one can drive to snow, the desert, or back to the beach. Ski trips to Wrightwood and Mammoth are planned, resulting in a last minute side trip to buy tire chains (don't need them in L.A.).
Eastern relatives phone their more 'fortunate' relations to come and pick them up from LAX on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year.
The next day women bitch and bake, men watch college football, kids play in the street, and a Wells Fargo bank thermometer tops out at 72 degrees.