Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Changing Shifts of Season


I like being able to get out of bed before the sun comes up. Like this morning. That's easy to do when daylight savings first kicks in in the early weeks of spring, and it's easy again for a while in the last few weeks of daylight savings before real time returns in the fall.


And the spring pattern weather is returning, stretching out into those gray, cold mornings, when the sun doesn't get out of bed until early afternoon. Today it cleared by about eleven, and the temperature hit the low sixties. I know if you're in Idaho, Washington, Missouri, Connecticut, or even Arizona, a high in the mid sixties sounds damn near tropical. For me it's uncomfortably cool, but I doubt I'll win much sympathy if I gripe about it.
Fall- even the tepid excuse we have for Autumn out here, was my favorite season for a long time, but now I enjoy the spring here more. Spring in Southern California is an acquired taste. Like turnips, or brussels sprouts. Most years give you several long spells of coastal eddy weather that comes and goes from April to early July. Silver days. You wake up, and it's overcast, and somewhere in the mid sixties to the low seventies. It just stays like that for eight weeks. No wind . No shadows. No change in temperature, day or night- not warm enough to be warm, or cool enough to be cold. Maybe the sun breaks through for a couple hours. Maybe not. A lot of people find it boring, and vaguely depressing. I find it soothing while it lasts, because you know the gray blanket that buffers the temperature, and softens the light is going to catch fire and burn into summer sooner or later. And there's no one curmudgeonly enough to not get happy over the first real day of summer. There are days like Christmas, and Easter, that are so deeply saturated with tradition, and ritual that it is impossible to not feel their specialness. In the same way, we all have our personal mythology with its own sacred calendar of significant days:birthdays, anniversaries, and other personal milestone dates, or seasons. I have a pretty fair collection of springs. Some were better than others. But it was 1982 that secured Spring its most favored status among seasons. That was the year I quit the gas company. I've talked about it before. You see, the thing that made it so good, was the crap that preceded it. By the fall of '81 I was stuck with a job I hated. My personal life was - well, let's just say that I was diligently working away at my qualifications for a seat in an Alcoholics' Anonymous meeting.

Not long after, the other folks in AA welcomed me as card carrying member of the club. I jumped from a job I hated to a job I hated worse. I ended up living and working in Hollywood. I was going to AA meetings at night in Hollywood. You can imagine. I quit the job in February of '82, but hung out in the city for several weeks before leaving. I hadn't been surfing since sometime late in'79. So one day, I decided to ditch off the meetings, screw the little obligations, and go to the beach. My surfboard had been lent and lost. So I grabbed the old boogie board, and my ratty wetsuit, and went out to Zuma beach. There wasn't much swell, and it was windblown, choppy, and cold. I put on the churchills, and backed into the shorebreak. The water was colder than shit. I ducked under a wash, and kicked out to where the sloppy little waves were breaking. Damn, I was out of shape. But I flippered into a little swell, flexed the soft foam board into the wave face, and managed two seconds worth of slide across a greenwater slope before ducking into the churn, and letting the wash carry me to shore. That was all it took.


AA gets to be like a family. I had some friends from the program by then: a regular group who used to get together for coffee after meetings, and talk into the small hours. I had a coffee commitment, and a birthday cake coming up for a year with no booze or dope.


I didn't so much as extend a phone call to anyone.


I didn't bother to get the birthday cake.


I didn't tell anyone goodbye. I just left.


I didn't have much stuff at all. It was a furnished apartment that I'd taken over from my brother. I filled up my car,unloaded it in Whittier, and my dad, and I drove out the next morning to pick up the rest of the stuff. The last possession I had left there was my bike, a five speed Schwinn Spitfire Deluxe. It was about nine thirty in the morning when my dad took off, and I pointed the beach cruiser east on Melrose avenue, and headed out of there. It was a thirty some mile ride from Hollywood to Whittier, and the parts that weren't going through bad neighborhoods, were the parts that were going through dangerous neighborhoods. But nothing bad happened. The scenery just changed gradually in that soft silver lit spring morning. Block by block, mile after mile I poked along through the run down, industrial, and poverty zone corners of LA on that heavy old cruiser. Early in the afternoon I swung onto Washington Boulevard, and a few miles later I was in town, finally riding along on familiar routes. It felt good. I heard quick repeated blasts of a car horn behind and to my left. I looked up as a carload of high school aged girls slowed beside me in the right lane. One of the girls leaned out the window, pulled up her top and flashed the finest set of young breasts that nature ever created. They sped off laughing hysterically before I could even exhale.


When I pulled up to my mom's house, my brother had been there. He left me his old 7'5" Russel pintail, but the fin box was broken. No biggie. I could glass in the fin and the thing would work just fine.


JWM

2 comments:

walt said...

Hanna's banana fetish ... now, this. You guys really know how to draw an audience!

The way I figure it, those young ladies were merely "acting out" the basic lesson they had heard repeatedly from their grandparents, who, in their old-fashioned way, had advised them that "Short visits make long friends!"

And they were right, weren't they? To this day, you still remember them fondly ...

mushroom said...

1982, when we were young. That's was about a year before I quit drinking.

Speaking of Missouri weather, it was 72 here on the Plateau yesterday at 3:00 pm. It dropped 10 degree in about six minutes. By 6:00pm it was 46, 25 at midnight. This morning it was 22.

The temps were nice all last week and I was tilling the garden over the weekend. My wife put my heavy coats and long-sleeved shirts away. I have one sweatshirt left out here in the man-cave to wear under my rain jacket.