I feel like an awkward conversation between two people is about to occur – why? Because I’m going to talk about the weather now.
The Autumnal Equinox happened this weekend. One of two days of the year where the day is the same length as the night: this one marks the coming of winter.
It’s funny though, to think about the seasons changing. I grew up in New England, and one of the perks of our location, my mother always told me, was “four distinctive seasons”. We had a cold, snowy, icy winter followed by a rainy and warming spring full of green, turning to a hot, humid, sunny summer and finally a crisp, cooling, leaf-turning autumn. In retrospect, it was picturesque, and I recall hoping for snow on Christmas day, loving the color of the leaves of autumn on my birthday. I remember the hot days and begging to go to the city pool in the summer, and the first hints of springtime, when the snow finally stopped and my mother’s garden would begin to green.
When I prepared to move to Los Angeles from Boston, I was looking forward to leaving the cold of winter and the humidity of summer behind. Everyone was always telling me it was 70° (fahrenheit) and sunny every day in West LA and oh, I couldn’t wait.
In May of 2010 I moved into a beautiful two-thousand square foot, two-story loft apartment with two other beautiful girls one block from the Pacific Ocean. From our roof we could see the water. From our windows (which we left open all summer – no need for air conditioning) we could feel the sea breeze and fall asleep to the sound of the waves hitting the sand. Our back porch overlooked the Venice canals, and properly, we lived on the Marina peninsula.
It was incredible. In the mornings the fog (not smog) from the ocean would make the beginning of the day cloudy, locals call it the “marine layer”, and as the heat of the day moved in, we got a nice sunny 75° day pretty much all summer. I remember, actually, in August, we hit a record high in Venice at 101°. But with the sea breeze and the open layout of our home, it didn’t even feel that warm.
Now, I remember telling people I was from Boston. Besides the obvious thing people not from the Northeast immediately do (which is to repeat the word “Boston” but with an exaggerated New York accent not realizing they’re not the same accent), the next thing anyone ever says is “oh, it’s cold there, right?”. No, it’s cold six months of the year, thanks. One month or so on either side are reasonably mild, and then the other four are hot. Anyway, back to Los Angeles –
As autumn set in, the air did cool. The marine layer lingered a while longer every day, and I closed my windows at night due to chill. But nothing could have prepared me for winter. Winter was sunny, winter wasn’t snowy or icy or any of those common things I was used to as a New England girl… oh, but it was cold. Granted, we were surrounded by water on three sides in a big open apartment with huge windows. One wall of our living room, in fact, floor to ceiling, was windows. This was not warm.
And we didn’t have heat. I don’t know the story as to why, but we didn’t have it.
So every day would be a crisp, sunny, high-60°s. Every night the wind would blow and the temperature of our home would hover in the 50°s, I think (outside would be in the 30°s). My room, housing my tropical birds and being the furthest from said wall of windows, was an obvious choice to throw two space heaters and an air mattress down, and any housemate was welcome to warm themselves in my room.
Spring warmed us up, summer more so, and then everything was great.
But when people from back home tell me “oh Los Angeles, it’s always summer there, right?” I just want to laugh.
Granted, beach living is different from the rest. You can generally expect downtown to be about 10 degrees warmer than the beach. You can expect the Valley to be a whole 20 degrees warmer.
So in January of 2012 I opted to move to Las Vegas, where I’d been spending the majority of my time anyway. Las Vegas in the summer is hotter than LA. We’re talking 105° regularly, and that awesome dry desert heat which I’ve come to love.
But fall comes and the nights cool. Winter comes and it’s downright freezing at night. People don’t expect it. The four seasons are certainly most distinctive in an area like New England. Snowy, cold winters; rainy, warming spring; hot, humid summer; crisp, cooling fall… But even though I live in climates which have a fairly low variance in temperature – I definitely feel the seasons change. I start wearing jeans and hoodies (and eventually even coats and gloves!), I stop using the A/C in my car, I change the settings of my central air in my place in Vegas.
So, with that, I’ll admit I’m still wearing shorts and going to pool parties and enjoying the extended warmth that Vegas offers. But at night I’m in jeans, and I’m preparing for the chilly winter.
Which is the point of this – this is the Autumnal Equinox, one of two days of the year which are equal in daylight and evening. From here, the nights grow longer and the cold sets in.
Even in Las Vegas.