It is not uncommon to hear, especially from folks who have moved here from other parts of the country, that Southern California has no winter. People laugh at us when we pull out our knitted caps when the thermometer dips to 60 degrees. And we definitely don’t know how to drive in the rain (I will give them that). But, as someone who was born and raised in Southern California, and maybe more so as a gardener, I would say, “Yes, indeed, California has a winter!” It is subtle and beautiful.
Southern California, I am speaking primarily of the Los Angeles area, does not have the extreme weather fluctuations that the northeast and midwestern parts of the country do. There is no argument there. There is no snow, no sub-zero temperatures (not even close). We do get to spend an occasional afternoon at the beach, in the water, in January. And that is part of the beauty. Sinking your toes into the sand on a day when it is just warm enough not to need a sweatshirt.
Our winter brings citrus trees heavy with fruit.
We can eat fresh peas straight from the pod.
The Brassica family abounds and I get to make cauliflower, kale casserole with my students.
The lettuce bolts and gets planted again.
The promise of summer emerges with the first tomato seedlings and the first planting of pole beans.
And it is more than that. It is the time of year when we are graced with clouds and beautiful sunsets, an occasional rainbow, and the somewhat tricky task of dressing for brisk mornings and warm afternoons. It is crystal clear views all the way to the brilliant ocean from the 134 freeway, or better yet, from the trail to Echo Mountain. It is low light and the way the first rays of sun capture the mountains.
Southern California has a winter I have come to love.
The more I stand still, the more of it I see.