Seasons in California


By Emma Pearson, Section Editor

It’s fall in northern California! There is a brisk chill hanging in the air (as long as you are within 100 yards of a coastline), the dark embrace of fog in the first and last four hours of the day, and brown and orange leaves leisurely falling from tree branches (the 10% of them that aren’t evergreen). The dials on thermometers are dropping from mid to high 80s to mid to low 70s as cable knit sweaters, Patagonia puffers, plaid skirts, and Ugg boots are being slipped on to protect brave Californians from the bitter possibility of sub-70 degree weather. Highly curated selections of abnormally sized pumpkins, unique gourds that are slightly uncomfortable to look at, and numerous other cultivars of the squash variety have been placed outside the homes of parents who have brought out fall-toned dish towels, non-edible multi-colored corn husks, and everything else demanded by the season of pumpkin spice. Come November, these same adults will adorn their dining room tables with centerpieces of tasteful cornucopias surrounded by garlands of fake-dead leaves and burnt orange candles (maybe even drape the chandelier with fairy lights that glow “autumn cream” if they’re feeling crazy). These amateur interior designers will start playing Christmas music by Black Friday (then again, I’ve had “Last Christmas” on repeat since September).

And then, before you know it (mostly because the weather has yet to get under 60 degrees), it’s wintertime! The chill in the air drifts slightly further inland, the non-evergreens become barren, and we all collectively beg for rain. When it does rain, us Californians rejoice at the prospect of less water conservation while simultaneously forgetting how to drive (rain is quite jarring in these parts). The downpour is a drizzle and lasts about 30 minutes (when it doesn’t, then we get scared and have to close public schools for the day) and, by some holiday miracle, the weather finally reaches California freezing by December (a glacial 48 degrees). Kids come to school in layers and their parents worry they’ll catch a cold in this wintry paradise of tinsel that sparkles in the bright sun that melts our windows’ spray-on snow. It comes time for the interior designer parents to trade their neutral wreaths for those of the red and green variety, and their mini apple cider bars become restocked with frosted pitchers of eggnog just before they head off for their Tahoe house. Cheeks redden from overheating as hot chocolate is sipped and Elf plays on repeat, gloves and heavy-duty jackets come out of everyone’s dads’ closet as they go to pick up their Christmas tree, and mom makes everyone dress in coordinated outfits because she is not going through the immense stress and financial commitment of holiday cards for nothing.

Just as that one family’s holiday card finally arrives in the mail, it’s spring! The timing is perfectly fitting, however, as the first month of the season of new beginnings is mostly reborn under a layer of fog that would be hard to differentiate from any other season to an unsuspecting tourist. That doesn’t stop the demographic of people who really want you to know that springtime is their favorite from wearing floral dresses, pastel colors, and making Easter a very big deal for not being religious. Egg hunts, massive bunnies, and baby animals, what can I say other than thank you Jesus! 

Then comes summer, and you know what that means: it’s hotter than spring! Get your swimsuits on, grab some sunglasses, and pile into the car, time for going to beaches where it’s colder than it was at your house. Summer under the northern California sun means three extremely hot days in which everyone thinks they are going to die and informs anyone that will listen that they don’t have air conditioning installed in their home (for the sake of efficiency, none of us do, so you can stop explaining what it’s like to be reliant on that one small fan). The rest of the days are the definition of lukewarm, mild heat, sometimes whispers of fog, a breeze here and there. The northern California summer sun may not burn as hot as southern California’s, but at least it’s consistent!

When it comes to seasons in northern California, take the lesson of your friend’s mom who is suddenly very interested in interior design, and know that you just have to force it.