Fall in California is a precarious thing, because it’s never quite right. I have a giant deciduous tree in my yard, and I planted the Roger’s Reds specifically because they observe the seasons. You would think that would give me enough Fall to go on with. Well, we’re well into October and the grape vine is still mostly green, with about 2 leaves starting to go red around the edges. The tree is still verdant. The purple and red sages on the walking trail Brian and I traverse every morning are blooming bright like it’s still full summer.
But if you pay close attention, we’re getting a little bit of Fall after all. Brian and I have turned off the AC and have opened the windows, blowing the cold in with a box fan. There aren’t any screens on the bedroom window, and that means that the kitten likes to hang half of her body out the second story if I’m not careful about closing it during the day. Otherwise, she’s sitting in front of the screen door downstairs and chittering at the moths as they dance around the porch light. The other two cats don’t care; they’d rather snuggle on the couch. I have put up all the Halloween stuff, and the living room and dining room are awash in black and orange. Just the way I like it.
Brian rolled over on Sunday morning and realized I was awake. “If we get up now, we can probably catch the sunrise at Caroline Park,” he said.
Caroline Park is a tract of land that was left to the city in the 1930s. It features about a mile worth of trails in a recreated sage brush environment, with a huge grass meadow on the Eastern side that isn’t connected to the other, natural park. Brown bunnies hop through the bushes, and thousands of birds trill in the trees. In the distance is a stunning view of the Redlands valley with mountains and sky as a frame. It’s surrounded by a neighborhood, but it’s still exceedingly quiet.
So I threw on workout clothes, and we arrived at the little park just in time to watch the clouds over the trees turn from deep pink to bright yellow.
As we walked the trails in the new morning, I realized that it was officially Fall here, if nowhere else. The California Buckwheat had turned black and willowy, with the auburn buds of dead flowers blooming on the entwined branches. Some of the trees had already dropped their leaves, with only drooping yellow figs still clinging to the white bark. We sat on a park bench, and the tree above us fluttered a speckled leaf of red and black onto my lap.
We sat there for a while, listening to the birds shout at each other in the morning, and watching the bunnies hop around, their little white tails disappearing into the bushes at the sides of the trails. And then I went home to my green, green house.
It’s supposed to be 95 again by Friday. One of these days I’ll get to turn on the fireplace, I hope. I just know it isn’t going to be anytime soon.