Category Archives: Winter-wet season

Winter, blah

For us, one of the attractions of moving to the San Francisco Bay Area was the weather. Sure, we knew that there are usually a couple of days a year when temperatures dip below freezing, but we could handle that.

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather warning for the Bay area. For tonight, they say “the coldest air of the season so far is expected. Snow levels will lower to 500 feet….” Since we live well below the 500 foot level, that is fine with me. It might be charming to see a little white on the tops of the coastal range.

The forecast continues: “Areas of frost are possible late Monday night into Tuesday morning.” That is still within the range of acceptable weather. In fact, it would be fun to see some frost: last time we lived in the Bay area, it was faintly amusing to see people trying to scrape frost off their car windshields with credit cards (I made sure to keep our ice scrapers in the glove compartment). But then the forecast continues with something is is quite unacceptable: “Monday through Saturday. Colder with rain and snow showers….”

Snow showers, even if mixed with rain, are completely unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.

Winter: dark, wet, and green

By now, the sun had gotten about as low in the sky as it will get. We will lose a few more minutes of daylight between now and the winter solstice, but it almost won’t be noticeable.

Over the weekend, we got some more rain, not a great deal of it, but enough to make a difference to growing plants. While the hillsides still look brown, there are even more tender green shoots coming up in odd places.

Mass American culture tells us that spring is associated with tender green shoots and lengthening days. But that’s not the way the seasons work here. Right now, our days are short, and at the same time we have tender green shoots coming up. We don’t dash through the snow to get to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving; we dash through rain showers and greenery. The Advent or Yule season is dark, just as it is throughout the northern hemisphere, but it is also wet and green. Mass American culture stems from North Atlantic culture, but parts of it just don’t apply to the Pacific Rim.

Waiting for winter

After the rain we had in October, little green plants started springing up in all kinds of places. In front of our house, the ground between the sidewalk and the road turned from barren beaten-down earth to little delicate green plants in the days after the rainstorms. In our front garden, the fennel roots put out fuzzy little green leaves a couple of inches long. Along the railroad tracks, a few green shoots started showing in among the golden brown stalks from last winter’s now-dead plants.

We haven’t had any significant rain since then. Those little green plants have gotten a little larger, but not by much. There they sit, waiting for the next big rain storm so they can grow a little larger.

Fall color in Palo Alto

That’s the office wing here at church, with roses in full bloom in the foreground, while at the same time leaves on trees and shrubs are turning bright red and orange. The recent rains and humidity have made the grass look much greener (in-ground sprinklers just aren’t as effective as rain).

(My office is the one with the lights on.)