Fall is here. I can feel it. Is it because I’ve been good that the forecast calls for Rain, my dear friend, Rain, to visit today?
Would that be ducky, the washing away of dust from cars, a trillion Santa Clarita leaves and a few dozen bus benches?
I’m not a fan of the late heat waves of October or the devilish Santa Anas that bring fire, tragedy for some, rebirth to other flora and fauna in this high desert valley. Still. I love autumn.
Did you know there are people who walk among us who don’t know east from west? Friends. Family members. Strangers. I’ve asked. It’s a simple question. “Do you know where the sun comes up in the morning? Can you point where it yawns and stumbles to sleep at dusk?”
Frightening, how many have no idea.
Of course, the sun sets and rises a few index finger pointings apart, depending on the time of the year. I do marvel. Some haven’t the foggiest.
Soon, one my favorite phrases becomes reality.
Don’t mind if I do.
In an insane habit of most of the country, as if the days aren’t short enough, soon we’ll set our clocks back an hour. It’s not until Nov. 3, so no need to sprain anything dashing toward the microwave or coffee maker.
What is it that makes me love the short days of autumn? I was a latchkey kid, no one at home, dark at 5:30. A child Steppenwolf, I should dread the season, but the chill, the shadows, people scurrying here and there as if beasts are about to wake, stretch and hunt… I find early evenings comforting.
Fall. It’s melancholic. Contemplative. I remember things like chopping kindling and stacking firewood, unpacking winter clothes. Good gracious. Winter. It’s up next. Temperatures in Newhall could get down into the mid-60s. Werewolves, bears and Anabaptists will be scratching at our boarded windows.
We’re pretty lucky here in Santa Clarita. I’ve been tracking this for years. Did you know we really only have about 100 days that bring wicked heat? The thermometer starts to bubble on July 4 and fizzles out around Oct. 15.
I used to lead out the Fourth of July parade atop a fine, tall horse. It’s a terrible confession to make in public, but I have friends who are insensitive. I flirt with weighing 200 pounds, which is perfect for my height of nearly 9 feet tall. But some of my alleged pals along the route would yell out unkind questions, like, “Is that horse you’re riding bronze, Boston, to hold all that weight?”
I remember one Fourth of July eve, the weather gods were acting up. I was living in Placerita Canyon at the time and it dipped into the 40s. Fahrenheit. Had to relight the pilot on the heater it was so cold. Then, there was one Halloween, when my daughter was 5. Indy Pie and I were trick-or-treating in triple digits. I remember sitting on a wall and my girl had just learned about the ancient tradition of trading candy. She’d peruse my bag and spot some Crown Jewels of Sugar, like a 2-pound box of See’s Candy. She’d pluck out an unwrapped sour ball, nine parts lint, and innocently ask if I’d care to trade.
That’s what dads say.
Autumn heat is different than summer heat. A scorcher of 105 in August just feels — different — in October. It doesn’t have the will, that severe melt-the-fat-off-you oomph. And this last summer was actually mild.
It’s autumn. I am seriously in love with fresh air. I was a motorcycle guy before the dratted helmet laws were passed and I owned convertibles, a 1956 Mercury with leopard skin interior, two race cars, an Austin Healy with a psycho Batman body and an Alfa Romeo, more temperamental than an Italian starlet. When they were gone, I’d rent a convertible for a day or two when autumn proper arrived. I’d drive through distant canyons at night with the top down, glancing up at the stars and a full moon when it was available. Alone, sometimes I sing, at the top of my lungs. Sometimes miles and hours would evaporate and I’d find myself in the mountains, hours from home.
I’ve survived another summer in Newhall.
If this were ancient Greece, the scribes would write epic poems about me.
All those days of summer, running toward the nearest air conditioner to weep and place my cheek against its vent. Autumn will soon turn cool. Then comes that first day you reach for the knob of the dashboard heater. The feeling. It’s secure, comforting, as if saber tooth tigers lurked nearby and the thermometer in the car will keep them at bay.
John Boston is a local writer.