fall in california: part one

// Monday, November 2, 2015

Firstly and most importantly: I’m writing this on November 2nd, in keeping with the many kinds of writing November is becoming known for. It is November 2nd in the time zone I’m in, which is to say Pacific Standard Time, since the time change happened this weekend. (And I think I’m right about that, but time changes and time zones never really fully click for me, for some reason.) I’m specifying this because either BlueHost or WordPress thinks that I’m writing in East Coast time, and I haven’t gotten around to figuring out what time zone setting I need to tweak to make it realize I’m in California.

Today was 52 and rainy and cold (the New Englander in me wants to make fun of me for thinking 52 is cold for November 1st, but: cold), and I guess the massive rainstorm we had in the East Bay (and/or most of California) was also snow in the mountains. Driving to work today, the guy on NPR was talking about how it’s the arrival of winter. And while I may have adjusted to California enough that 52 and raining feels cold, I haven’t adjusted enough that rain means winter. (That said: I will always associate rainy drizzly night driving with Christmas, so maybe I’m either not one to talk or have secretly belonged in California all along.)

But while it may not be winter, it is definitely fall, and I’m finding myself missing fall in New England. And then there are moments like the picture above, which I took on an 80 degree day as I was walking back from lunch after Google Maps led me from my office through a (planned and maintained) hole in a fence through a different office park to my lunch destination. (That is a story I should explain one of these days.) And there were a bunch of oak-ish trees, and it sounded and felt like fall: lots of crunchy brown leaves in patches of sunlight and shade. There was a barely noticeable leaf smell. Nevermind that I was wearing jeans and too warm, or that if I turned 180 degrees I probably could have taken a picture of a palm tree framing a ten lane freeway (calling highways freeways: harder than I would have expected). The point was that in that moment, it was really and truly fall.

It was a good reminder. I may not have bright red and orange trees, in spite of our mix of determined and half-hearted efforts to find them, but I’ve got leaves that crackle and rainy cold days where all I want is hot chocolate and tea and a good book and cloudy November skies. I just have to be open to it, and see all of what’s in front of me. Not just the sunshine and the palm trees (hi, East Coast friends!), but the clouds and the leaves and the small moments of “this place could be the place that I know, not just the place that is new.” Because there are a number of those moments, and it’s wonderful, but it’s easy to lose them in the chaos of the day.

In the spirit of writing more, I’m trying to observe more, document more, find the parallels more. Because I love new adventures and new things, but sometimes – almost always – what makes the new and exciting adventures so wonderful is finding the similarities, regardless of how small. Not comparing, but identifying common ground, common leaves, common textures and feelings and spaces. It’s about the little things, and how those little things can be made into new, different, equally wonderful (maybe even more wonderful) things.

I really love the fall. I’m missing the fall I know – the stereotypical, gorgeous New England fall, but California fall is quite pretty in its own right, and sunset still makes golden grass more golden and brings out colors that you wouldn’t know the trees had in bright sunshine. And for when that doesn’t quite cut it, I’ve got a multitude of friends who can Snapchat me pictures of the trees outside their office windows.

(Really, it’s about the little things.)