California — cali-forno, a reasonable sixteenth-century Spanish cognate for “hot oven.”1 Here’s the forecast for the coming week:
There are a couple of interesting things about the weather.
The first is visible on the temperature chart: it cools off in the evening. Every. Single. Day. Last night it got into the mid-50’s. Toward the end of this scorcher of a week, it will be in the high 60’s at night. The evening spells R-E-L-I-E-F.
But the thing you can’t see from the chart is how the heat feels.
Marta lived in Texas for many years, and I’ve visited there in the summer, when the heat is brutal. You get out of the car and limp to the nearest air conditioning, trying not to actually let your foot touch the baked ground, cringing against the oppressive blaze from above. I’ve been to Phoenix only once, and I thought I would die of heat stroke walking from the airport to the rental car shuttle. In North Carolina, you have trouble breathing on a hot day: I once opened a car that had been sitting in the sun, and steam poured out the door and fogged my glasses; and good luck wiping off the fog. I remember living on Long Island, when summers sometimes got so hot and humid that it was impossible to eat.
I’m not going to pretend that 105º here is pleasant. But it feels different from any other place I’ve been.
The chart above says that the high today was 82º, but it actually reached the low 90’s. The morning was cool, with birds singing in a very light breeze. By noon it had warmed up, and Marta and I had lunch on the deck in the shade of the neighbor’s big oak tree: absolutely perfect picnic weather. I spent the afternoon in my office, window and door shut, and the air conditioner kicked on a few times. Now, the sun has set, a cool breeze blows the length of the valley, and my office is cool with the door open. Some fool bird — I’m guessing a fledgeling — is making a racket in the back yard. The sky is a perfect cotton-candy blue, and apart from the bird, it’s so very quiet….
I can’t say for certain if I’ve come Home, or if this is just the honeymoon: only time will make that distinction. But at this point, I love it here….