Friday, January 4, 2013
After the Holidays
Growing up in Chicago, I used to feel gloomy after the holidays. The days were still short and the weather bleak. A white Christmas seemed sparkly and cheerful. A snowy January mean having to wear boots, pushing the car out of the snow, and eventually having to deal with slush.
January and February were months to be endured with my head down against the icy wind off of Lake Michigan as I trudged to school.
But all that has changed since living in Southern California. Yesterday we went for a walk in the mountain at sunset. The air was chilly, but a sweater and a vest sufficed. It felt so good to be outside.
We take the same walk over and over, but it doesn’t matter because each time is fresh. Everything is turning green from the rain we’ve had. The slopes we passed were covered with short grass that made me think of a crew cut.
There is no way to capture it in a photo. It’s a mixture of smell of the wild sage, the feeling of cold air coming up from the sandy fire road we walk along, and the changing views. There’s the area I call the secret valley. It’s mostly empty meadows, but there are a few houses and beyond are the more rugged peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains. Above those mountains there was just a blush of apricot left from the sun that was saying good bye.
A little further and there is a view of the whole Valley. I can recognize landmarks like the huge Topanga mall and watch all the stoplights on Winnetka Avenue change as it heads north. The community of Porter Ranch seems to be sitting in the hands of the Santa Susanna Mountains. Sometimes I catch a glimmer of cars on the 118 Freeway as it leads into the Santa Susanna Pass.
Then toward the east are the much taller San Gabriel Mountains. Here and there snowy peaks show through. The lights on the Valley floor begin to come on as the daylight dims and the sky turns gradual darker shades of blue. The road and the hillsides around us begin to melt into each other and it is time to head back. I have such a feeling of well being and not a trace of the after holiday blues.