December 18, 2006

Bitter Snow In The Desert

It snowed Friday night in the hills. In our neck of the woods, the snow came down to about 100 feet above us, and continues to linger even now, three days later, and will almost certainly still be there tomorrow. At these altitudes, it was just a dusting, so it's not like anything catastrophic. It's kind of pretty, at least a nice change from the usual dull brown. The Tehachipis and the San Gabriels, somewhat farther away, have got a more heavy, proper coat of snow as one would expect in the wintertime.

Cold weather, however, is no fun. I would rather it was cold and dry than cold and snowy, to be sure. Still, it's always seemed odd to me to have to keep winter clothing in Southern California, and particularly in the desert where it is so often uncomfortably hot. The wind, particularly, is biting and not fun at all in the desert during the winter, and out in the flats where the courthouse is, it gets up to about twenty-five miles an hour, really pushing things around. When I leave for work in the morning, there is frost and ice all over the lawn.

So that's winter in the desert for you. Snow, not quite at the level of human habitation, and really cold wind. Unpleasant, not unbearably so. I remember the winters we spent in Tennessee and they were miserable. I was reminded of that today, seeing so much ice and frost built up on the windshields of cars that had been left out overnight.

(Spring will be nice. For about a week, after the February rains, the desert will bloom in purple and orange with the clover and poppies in abundance; the cacti will bloom and sprout prickly pears; and the grass itself will be green. After a rain, even the Joshua trees look clean and vibrant. I'm looking forward to spring -- best two weeks all year in the desert.)

So maybe I'm in a sour mood after a ninety-minute long bad customer service experience with the cellular phone company. Maybe I'm in a sour mood because my old insurance company in Tennessee still just doesn't get it -- we sold our house and moved half a year ago. Maybe I'm in a sour mood because our bank won't let us buy the television set we wanted to buy for ourselves. Maybe it's because I just don't buy in to the Christmas thing anyway. But for whatever reason, the holiday season just isn't penetrating into my consciousness. Images of winter beauty seem like so much cold, white, bleak, barrenness and I just want them to go away. And maybe I'm bitter because my fantasy football team's once-commanding hold on second place (like all fantasy teams not presently in the lead, we lack LaDanian Tomlinson) has evaporated to merely six points. This week only one of our position players scored any points at all.

And people start being silly with their holiday decorations around this time of year. Strike that -- Christmas decorations. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, secular humanists, and Wiccans don't seem to do a lot of decorating their houses with ostentatious displays of lights and lawn sculpture. It's the Christians who celebrate the birth of their Messiah with images of Santa Claus, reindeer, angels, and a variety of generically-nice messages like "Noel" and "Peace on Earth." (Talk about taking a controversial stand!)

But my favorite Christmas decoration so far has to be near the intersection of 30th Street West and Avenue L. There, the property owner has ringed white lights around twenty-foot high plywood picture of Mr. Hanky, the beloved Christmas character from South Park. This is a heavily-travelled street, and located just two blocks away from a Christian elementary school. Subversive, yes; socially appropriate, no. Whether anyone has complained about this or not is a good question, one which I intend to ask the editor of the newspaper when I have dinner with him Wednesday night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How do you think I feel, I'm up at 3 a.m. writing Christmas cards.

Consider this yours.