Archive for October, 2009

Making Mark Twain Proud

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”—Mark Twain

It was late January and I was on my way to Malibu to meet a client. I was in good time and had decided to take a very windy canyon road, mainly to slow myself down. I find having to drive carefully makes me appreciate my surroundings.

The weather was one of those crystal clear days following a rainy spell that we have in winter. The Channel Islands seemed close enough to touch.  The ocean was mirror smooth and calm; a glassy blue color.

The Ceanothus (wild lilac) on the hillsides was just beginning to bloom white and the recent rain had encouraged a soft emerald green carpet of grasses to cover the slopes. The Valley Oaks were dormant and their bare branches created wonderful silhouettes against the clear blue sky.  The Evergreen Oaks had self-cleaned themselves of their dead leaves and had enjoyed a soft wash by the recent rains.

The inflorescence of the native grasses glistened in the sunlight. It was still January, but it felt like spring. The rest of the country and Europe was having a hard winter with snow and ice storms and cold. I was suddenly aware of being grateful for living in Southern California. And simply taking that quiet time to enjoy the drive was cathartic and buoyed my soul.

I grew up in England, where winter was always gloomy and grey for months on end. It sapped the energy out of me and made me feel lethargic.  I notice that I have so much more energy living in sunny California and, yet, when it does rain, I do enjoy that feeling of wanting to cuddle up in front of a roaring fire reading a book, knowing that tomorrow the sun will reappear and I’ll be full of life again. The complete opposites of sunny blue and dreary grey make one grateful for both options.

Californians are so creative (aren’t we the seventh largest economy in the world and the leaders in the entertainment industry?) and I firmly believe that this is because the sun shines all of the time – yes – our great weather.

Have you noticed that Californians don’t go to the beach in winter? Yet it can be one of the best times to enjoy the calm, quiet solitude of almost deserted beaches.  Another of my favorite times at the beach is during a storm, with the high white water and rolling clouds.

My husband is an amateur photographer and so all of our trips and vacations are based around the weather – as in he bases a successful trip on whether there was weather. A simple blue sky doesn’t count.  Clouds, storm watches, and sunsets that are a sorbet of color, sunrises that are orange with a hint of magenta, the warmth of the light and shadow that makes for a successful trip in his mind. Weather creates mood for his photographs. And, best of all, weather is free.

The canyon drive also took me past a few of the vineyards springing up throughout the Malibu region.  The bare vines in tidy rows felt soothing.  Have you noticed how being surrounded by any form of agriculture is calming? I thought of Italy.  Would Malibu become the next great wine making region? Italy must once have been shrub lands until the vintners discovered the lovely balmy climate perfect for the grape. Some may argue that tearing up our native plants and habitat to install the vines is destructive, but we all enjoy the “fruits” of the vintner’s labor.

How do I stand on this issue? How did I feel about that? Is it a good thing or a bad? I’m not too sure yet and the day didn’t seem to warrant that serious of a reflection. I just wanted to continue to enjoy my drive through this beautiful scenery.

Later in the day, I stood on the Malibu bluffs with my client and we watched a whale ambling along the coastal waters.  No rush. No pressure. Just taking in the lovely  afternoon.

I’ve heard that rushing shortens one’s life, so maybe we should all copy the mellow whale and let’s all be grateful and slow down occasionally, appreciate where we live, be thankful for what we have, and, instead of just talking about the weather, enjoy it every day.