Saturday, March 29, 2003

Here Comes Santa Ana!

Wind dashed rock-rose petals at El Rancho.

Grandpa loves to come to the breakfast table with the news of the hour, the latest report, the scoop, and preferably something with a hint of doom or tragedy. He keeps his transistor radio handy, so he can be up on L.A. traffic; the bottleneck at the 405/5 merge, or the car chase on the Santa Monica. As I am leaving to the market, he'll call out to me, a caution, "Don't head to Los Angeles, it's bad." Thanks Grandpa. I wasn't planning on going two hours out of my way for bananas, but thanks.

Wednesday, his report to us was delivered with the usual note of importance and revelation, but news that is delivered by a man that comes to breakfast at noon is seldom ever fresh news. "Santa Ana coming this weekend," he announces.
"If Santa Ana is coming, that would make us the Alamo," I wink.
He appreciates a good Texas reference.

The Santa Anas are the winds that come from the desert. From out east, through the mountain passes and howling up the valleys. When we lived on the coast it meant stronger, hotter breezes and a change from our usual off shore weather pattern. But here, just 20 or 30 miles inland, it is wild. The weather man reports "light Santa Anas" and we lose the roof to the chicken coop. Wind here moves heavy wooden chairs, snaps trees and loosens the raingutters, turns over tables. Last year the winds curled the corrugated steel roof on the horse shelter. Geoff had just finished adding about a hundred screws to better secure the metal sheets, but the Santa Ana rolled each piece back like curling ribbon.

My sleep last night was as restless as the wind. The walls shuddered, the roof groaned. We heard things flying around in the dark, and the windows, wrestling to hold back the invasion, whistled and moaned. Every cloud and bird has been blown to the sea, and the sky is so clear one can scarcely bare the glare of the bright morning sun. The chicas' coop was blown around enough to dislodge their roost, the pool toys need to be collected from every corner in the yard. We are literally holding down the fort. The trees are bowing, and flower petals have been torn and dashed. Leaves and twigs, dust and sand, everything swirling, whirling.

Grandmother thought she heard a cat last night, meowing in the wind. At one point we thought we were in an earthquake, from the motion and the noise. Our cats slept at our feet, safe from being blown away. This is no earthquake. It's just a light Santa Ana. I stood above the slope and held out my arms; I can lean into the force and when it gusts, blows with ferocity, it is not hard to imagine flying. Flying over the house and past the that would be something to report about...

Diego, the cat in the bag, taking cover from Santa Ana.

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