29 October 2009

Miss Manners Talks About California Weather

April or October?Growing up in California - a land of mostly immigrants tacked onto the left edge of an even more enormous land of mostly immigrants - you notice that certain migrants from the east coast are sometimes opinionated. It's hard to get affirmation from an east coast person, especially when it comes to evaluating the weather.

For example, if you say, It's cold today. They will reply, No it's not. They say these three words as if they were one syllable. So say it as fast as you can: Noitsnot. That's how they say it. Similarly, if you say, Gee, it's hot today, guess what they say? Noitsnot.

So it seems that because we lack humidity in the form of snow, and in the form of ...steam, we are not entitled to make any claims of extreme weather. Things are just too dry here, except when they're foggy, but fog, for some reason, doesn't count as snow. Mark Twain did say that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco, but he was prone to hyperbole, and from the midwest.

I learned recently that when referring to trees on the east coast, you can't say trees, you have to say foliage. Which is just flashy. Sure, I remember years ago coming in for landing in Charlotte, North Carolina, looking down at the landscape and seeing that it looked really bizarre down there and asking what those things were. (I'm not making this up.) My husband took a quick peek out the airplane window, replied, "trees" and went back to sleep. He should have said foliage but perhaps thought I might not understand.

If someone put a blindfold on you for say several months, then gave you a California tree to look at, you would have no idea what the date was. California perennials are just too subtle, they're all bark, they can't say anything about the calendar. So even though you're in California, and you feel autumn in your bones, in your skin (dry), you see it in the bright thin light, you feel the crisp, cool air, just remember that it doesn't count for jack unless there's a lot of leafy east coast bling.

Miss Manners hopes you will keep all this in mind when you talk about the weather and the...plant life, in mixed company, in California.

(photo of redwood trees from Brooklyn Token's photostream on flickr)

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