The three seasons of Northern California and the hell that is our summer
The seasons keep me adrift in NorCal. The City of Trees didn’t disappoint with a glowing autumn last year, and we took full advantage of our pre-employment with trips to Apple Hill and Tahoe (an all-day hike in Desolation Wilderness, starting at the watery mirror that is Fallen Leaf Lake).
My spirits soared with an epic winter, day after day of hammering rain, dark clouds; we turned on the gas heater in our 1960s home, and joined the dogs in watching the rain trail down the windows while we made soups and homemade coffees with cinnamon.
Spring was mild, dotted with lingering showers through May. The trees again aglow in popcorn bursts of pink and white, if only for a few short weeks. We felt charged with activism; we took note of the brimming river, cold from the (still) melting run-off thousands of feet and a hundred miles away, with each weekend morning walk. We brunched, because that’s what you do in spring. And ordered itty-bitty cakes at the local cafe for Tawny’s birthday.
Summer certainly has its takers in NorCal. The rafting business was in full boom this past Sunday morning, the river banks dotted with barbecuers and fishermen and barbecuing fishermen. Coolers, and beers, and wine coolers, blaring blue-toothed speakers attached to folding chairs, wafts of marijuana drifting from hidden recesses. On the weekends, as people caravan back and forth between the bay and the Sierras, and as Tawny, the dogs and I follow different trails along the American, I usually enjoy NorCal’s fourth season.
But on the weekdays? God, help me. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it’s triggered and elongated by the sweltering heat that crushes creative energy into useless fatigue with even the briefest of outings. I grow restless in the house and tired outside. With a feeling akin to desperation, I await those evenings when the Delta breeze kicks in. A few times a month, the winds slide off the waters and deliver antidepressants straight to our backyard. More useful than Amazon Prime. I’m a junkie whose fix is literally in the air. Rare summer clouds — especially the dark looming ones — those clusters of gray-black UFOs in the threatening distance — jolt me awake and send me running out into the world — even if the sprints send me merely to Target or Safeway. On those days, I’m alive, motherfucker, powered by the awesome threat of heavenly electricity, charges like those which animated Frankenstein’s lifeless monster.
But most summer days in NorCal? I sit in a recliner and pretend to be elderly, waiting for the days to pass until the first leaves turn gold, the first nights to grow crisp. But I also sit and pretend I’m waiting to die, like the old man in the Pixar movie Up, after his wife passes.
It gives me something to do.
The TL/DR version: I adore NorCal’s temperate but distinct seasons, but summer up here is HELL on earth, though Satan throws weekend parties.