Allow me to qualify what I'm about to say with three facts that underscore my subjectivity on the matter:

  • I've never been traveled outside of North America, but have thoroughly explored most of the United States in terms of geography.
  • I grew up in Holland, MI and have only recently re-located to Ukiah, CA. Ukiah is a small mountain town 100 miles North of San Francisco, 20 miles from Fort Bragg and the Pacific coast.
  • California is an extremely large state--third largest in the United States--that all told covers 155,973 square miles. The Golden State is home to deserts, mountains, palm-tree lined paradises, swamps, vast forests and endless plains of clay and fieldstone. 33 million people watch the sunset here daily. Entire weather systems were born and will die here. What I'm about to tell you is about Northern California. I speak only for wine country and more specifically for the mountainous wine country of Napa and Mendocino counties.

California doles out its seasons by the hour.

Naturally, everything begins with Spring. The coolness of the previous evening holds out until around ten am, when the sun burns its way up over the mountains of Mendocino County. The light always wakes me up by then, through the Redwoods I'm fortunate enough to have as my front yard keeping things cool and muted. My patio is in full sun by mid-morning which keeps my lemon, lime and grapefruit trees quite cheerful. The morning dew from the rather drastic temperature change serves as a daily Spring rain.

Summer starts somewhere between noon and one pm, I'd be more specific but I'm usually getting stoned in one of the dozens of hot tubs Ouroboros mentions in this node's twin "Californians have no soul". Why he didn't bother hard-linking in his writeup above is beyond me but hey - "I'm just a stoner."

Summer doesn't care ... the sun burns through the dry air without humidity or malice. Temperatures approach one hundred degrees on the hottest days and spin down to the low seventies on cool ones. It's an easily avoided heat, a brief time-out under the ever present Pines and Oaks is always good for cooling off. It's a heat that back in the Midwest you'll find accompanied by a sticky 95% humidity. Fuck that.

Late afternoon is all about Autumn. "Shadows are falling on the mountain". Once again, the sun took things too far. Spent. The shade creeps steadily through downtown and that pleasant sort of coolness takes over--the one that makes putting pants on the favorite part of your day. Sweater weather. Coffee weather. Living here has reminded me of the intrinsic value of the tiny marshmallows that go in hot chocolate.

Midnight flows through the house reminding everyone to shut the windows before bed. Winter is upon. It's no Midwest winter--no need to chain the tires or start carrying around bags of sand and 2x8's. It's a California winter--everything is perfectly still. There's not so much as a breeze at night. On the cooler nights you can see your breath beneath the streetlights. In Ukiah the local deer population decided its had enough of winter wheat and decides to sample some front-yard fare. Dozens of deer stroll through the streets after dark and quietly nibble at bushes and gardens. Big Sky takes over and there's nothing to do but hibernate until the Spring thaw of nine am.

Every day that passes I see a year go by. Time stands still and pregnant.

"Summer's almost gone, but winter's tuning up..."

-Leonard Cohen-