Chaparral winds

Santa Ana winds bluster through chaparral communities

Sometimes it is frustrating living in the outskirts of a large city, especially here in the higher, inland chaparral of Los Angeles county. People never think about the bigger picture when it comes to weather. All those glamorous weather gals that wax poetic about the wonderful weather in Los Angeles often forget someone else is paying for it. It is true all over the world, too, since we all forget that roughly the same amount of precipitation falls each year: it’s just the weather patterns that deposit it differently from year to year. No, we tend to think of reality as being limited to the space around each of us. And that certainly limits our perception of weather conditions. That means most people in this corner of the world don’t know much about the Santa Ana winds in the chaparral. If you have a home or garden here, however, you should know to buy heavy outdoor pots and furniture, stake trees and keep gardens well watered.

As the happy folks in Los Angeles rejoice at the warm weather we are currently having here in sunny Southern California, there are those of us watching our roofing shingles being peeled away, trees being felled, and gardens being stripped of anything not battened to the ground with cast iron weights while the Santa Ana winds rip through the area howling at 60 and 70 mph. As they go they conjure up dust storms filled with inflated plastic shopping bags, dried leaves, unidentified pieces of riff-raff, and torn self-created origami scrap papers. Unless you have new windows and doors, expect these invading winds to shrill through the tiniest cracks sounding like winds on the Alaskan tundra while they threateningly rattle at your window glass.  These pounding winds will continue for days as they hurl themselves down the canyons of the chaparral, compressing and warming the air to puff it out gently into the Los Angeles city area where recipients will delight in the warm, lovely weather.

This is just part of the normal weather in the upper chaparral. I tried explaining it to my garden that the downed fencing and blown over plants shouldn’t take it so hard, but they simply won’t listen. I guess I can just be thankful for all the natives I’ve planted. These plants scoff at winds, freezes and frying heat spells. One more reason to plant local natives in your garden. They don’t complain like we humans or our delicate plant imports.

So, hopefully the Santa Ana chaparral winds will blow themselves out soon so I can creep outdoors and start cleaning up the mess they leave behind. A good night’s sleep would be nice, too. In the meantime, frolic on, you television weather fashionistas. We will be toughing it out here in the inland chaparral. Unlike you, we’re a hearty breed. …Like we have a choice?