It’s freaking me out. What happened to summer?

I just walked out the front door to get the mail and not only was the light yellow instead of white, there was a nip in the air, at least by California standards, I’ve been wearing a sweatshirt all day whereas just last week I was wrestling with Felice how low to set the A/C.

The seasons change subtly in Los Angeles. When you’re a newbie you think it’s all the same, but it’s not. Live here long enough and you’re hip to the subtleties. There comes a point when you’ve got to have an extra layer at night. And that happened this week.

I was out hiking and the temperature was in the low sixties and I had to wear another layer. And usually during the night it does not get too cold down by the beach, where the trail I hike starts. The water… It keeps the air from getting too hot in the summer and too cool in the winter. Although my last few years in Santa Monica I was thinking I needed to buy an air conditioning unit for the window. Used to be there was only a week in Santa Monica you needed A/C, now it’s almost the entire summer. Your house starts off cool and then it doesn’t cool down until almost daybreak. So sleeping ain’t easy.

But I no longer live there anymore.

In my present abode I’m just a tad over the ridge, in the dreaded Valley. You couldn’t be any closer to the Westside and still call it the Valley, but it is. In the seventies the Valley was taboo. Now there are residents who rarely ever go over the hill. Then again, there are people who rarely leave their house anymore. There’s the traffic and then the communication methods. You used to have to leave your house for meetings, appointments, now you can even see the doctor in the privacy of your own home. And for decades there hasn’t been a reasonable music space in the Valley, the Country Club’s been gone for eons, now even the Universal Amphitheatre is gone. Action takes place downtown, or in Silver Lake or Echo Park, and the truth is they might actually be closer than they were in Santa Monica, especially since all the hip companies decided to decamp to the coast, never mind all the tech bros who can’t live too far from the beach. Santa Monica is gridlocked. All of L.A. is gridlocked. But the truth is all the action is on our screens, despite oldsters telling us to get off of them. Everywhere I go people want to talk about streaming TV, and we’re all constantly scrolling, catching up with our feeds on our smartphones. It’s a conundrum. Because they’re personalized, and we stay in constant contact with our buddies, but oftentimes we only see them once or twice a year, if that. And the truth is as you get older no one just drops by, you become ever more isolated. As for those people who are aged and single, good luck. It’s hard to live the life of a singleton as an oldster. Going to bars, hanging out. What did Chris Rock say, you get married because you don’t want to be the oldest guy in the club? I feel that these days. In my eyes I’m not a day over fifty, younger in fact, but to everybody else? There are the lines in my face giving it away. Now when there are more photos than ever before you’re confronted with this on a regular basis, how people are constantly changing, it’s subtle, but you can see it.

Well, that sounds like a march towards death. Which is what fall really is. But to tell you the truth, I love the winter, that’s when the snow falls, when you can go skiing, my passion. But before that…

Growing up in Connecticut fall was reasonable until the end of October, when Daylight Savings Time ended. November brought low temps and rain, utterly miserable. In December it starts to snow. But they don’t get the kind of snow they got when I grew up. Hell, with Zoom they don’t even have snow days anymore, I can’t imagine not waking up listening to local radio as they call out the towns where school is canceled.

The leaves don’t start to change color until October sometime. And you drive down the street, especially on a Saturday, and you see piles of leaves smoldering, that’s what you used to do, burn them. But my father never made me rake the leaves, sometimes we did it for fun, but my dad was cerebral, not physical, if he tried to fix something he broke it, I could give you numerous examples.

And on the east coast you’ve got a fall jacket. And a spring one too. They’re part of your wardrobe. They don’t exist in L.A. You’ve got your cold weather covering, as if the temperature would go down into the twenties, which it never ever does, and then light wraps for the rest of the year, but it does turn to fall, even winter.

When I went to college in Vermont, the first week of school was often warm. You occasionally had classes outside. But then the temperature dropped pretty rapidly. The leaves started to change halfway through September and peak was the first weekend of October. Now it’s later. Then again, it depends where you are in the state, Southern Vermont is about a week later than Northern Vermont.

And I go to the Vail cams every day, and the Aspens are starting to go gold. It’s an interesting effect, doesn’t hold a candle to Vermont foliage, but it indicates death. Even the grass has gone from green to yellow. The snow will start to fall soon. It won’t stick, but it’ll come down. And after losing its connection to A-Basin, Vail is having its earliest opening ever, on November 12th, think about that, it’s not even two months away. If you’re on the east coast, seemingly anywhere but the deep southwest, drink up the atmosphere, the weather, because it’s all downhill from here.

And the truth is we all have good memories of the fall. That slight nip in the air, having a hot drink outside in the afternoon, you feel invigorated. And too many people hate the winter and do their best to stay inside. They see living in the east as a burden, they want to decamp to Florida. We never did this. Furthermore, I have no problem fighting the cold weather, it makes you feel alive. That’s one of the upsides of Alaska not that I’ve been there in the winter. And did you see how much it snowed in Greenland a few days back? Actually, I read a book based in Greenland just the other week, entitled “Phase Six,” and I don’t wholly recommend it, but it’s interesting to put your mind in that place, with only a handful of people fighting the elements far from the infrastructure of the city. Then again, the phone works everywhere these days. It’s confounding to us who grew up when this was not the case, when even long distance phone calls in the U.S. were expensive. I spoke for an hour with Ralph in London yesterday and it was like he was a few blocks away. Then again, it’s always interesting to get a firsthand take, if you read the news you’d think shelves are bare, as a result of the trucking/infrastructure/Brexit situation, but Ralph said a chicken chain ran out of birds, but otherwise the markets are full. Not that your experience isn’t different. Today everybody believes they’re entitled to have their opinion heard, everybody’s always correcting the record, and as a result there is no accurate record, you can hear yourself speak but does anybody else? You can post to Instagram and no one sees it. And everybody wants to grow their audience online, even kids in the single digits.

Now on the east coast summer is fully defined. There comes a week in April when you realize winter is history and you start going out in shorts and a t-shirt even if it’s in the sixties, the fifties. And then Memorial Day is the start of summer. And Labor Day is the end of it. So you’ve got to squeeze your time in. If it rains on the weekend you’re pissed. Here it never rains during the summer, there’s no need to squeeze in activities, we can pretty much do everything all year long, but that does not mean I’m not shocked, positively shocked I tell you, that we’re now on the verge of fall. Technically it’s still four days away. Then again, next week it’s supposed to get hot in L.A. once again. It’s gonna work its way up into the nineties. But the days will get shorter and soon it will be in the low sixties or fifties every night, despite a few more burning hot days, and then it will be done.

As for fall activities…

When you’re an adult they’re a goof at best. Going to the corn maze. As for Halloween…it was little more than a blip on the radar screen when I grew up, it wasn’t about costumes but candy, and older people wanted nothing to do with it. Now Halloween is a national holiday. Hell, I saw decorations at the end of August. Soon I’ll be seeing Santa. Sure, there’s the spirit, but also the commercialism, the corporations love it.

But the sun used to set at 8:11 PM. I checked it on the first day of summer. Today it’s 6:56. And once it’s dark, it’s a completely different mind-set. I actually like the dark, it’s when I get most of my work done, when I can truly get into it. Then again, it’s depressing. The days get shorter, you drive home from work, traffic is heavy and it’s already dark. That’s weird.

And especially since L.A.’s hottest days are at the end of the summer you can fool yourself into thinking the warm days are gonna last forever. But then, pfftt! They’re gone.

Then again, if you’ve got any bread you can always fly to where the weather is better. That’s another thing that’s hard to fathom if you grew up in the sixties. Most people hadn’t even been on an airplane. A vacation was within a couple of hours’ driving distance, at least on the east coast. The rest of the world was exotic. No longer.

The world is getting smaller.

Then again, Mother Nature is immutable. You can’t hold back the shortening of the days. It’s gonna happen no matter what.

And as Don Henley sang, there are only so many summers, and so many springs. Used to be the change of seasons was almost a surprise, but you get older and not only do you expect them, they lose a lot of their meaning. It used to be that the change in seasons meant you were jumping through the hoops of life. Going to school, graduating, and then you get to the point where you can see the end. Nobody lives forever. And you don’t want to, all of your friends are dead. And so when the seasons change you think of how the time you have left is dwindling. And for those of us who want to accomplish things, to go places, time is running out. You realize you’ll never get to certain locations, that you’ll never get back to others. And although you want to keep enough money in case you do live long, you don’t want to cheap out either, because there’s so much stuff you’ll be unable to do while you’re still alive. Like physical activity. First you can’t do sports, then you can’t even travel, and then many people are just waiting to die.

Not that an elementary school kid thinks about this, but I do.

All the clichés are true, it goes by in the blink of an eye, but you still don’t believe it’ll happen to you. And you’ll never get a chance to go down a different path. It’s too late. You don’t want to get a divorce and go back into that pool of singledom referenced above. You can kill time in your twenties and thirties, but get over sixty and every moment is precious. Sometimes you waste time and you’re mad at yourself, there are only so many days and years left!

You want to grab hold.

But this big wheel keeps on turning, the sun hits it at different angles and you can’t turn back the hands of time, isn’t that what everybody says? There’s even a song about it.

But sometimes I want to.

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