Santa Ana Wind

3 11 2011

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. Raymond Chandler, “Red Wind” 1938

Once a cousin of mine who lives in Memphis asked me what our “bad” weather is here in inland Southern California. I thought a moment and then said “wind.”  Yes, the weather can get hot. Sometimes it rains and doesn’t know when to stop.  But the wind…that can drive you crazy!

You know a wind is pretty bad when they name it. Ours is called “Santa Ana.” In a rare moment of listening to the TV news night before last the weatherman mentioned that the wind would be coming in the morning. Eeek! Water the plants, make sure all the patio furniture covers are securely fastened, gather up the outdoor Halloween decorations, and hope he was not right! Then, about 9:30 p.m. – BOOM! That is the sound a Santa Ana wind makes when it arrives.

We thought our new house was in a neighborhood by a golf course with nearby hills. Nope. We are in an exposed position in a wind tunnel. Surprise! So we REALLY know when the wind is blowing. And it was really blowing Tuesday night and yesterday.

I have my Santa Ana Wind survival kit ready: My glass of ice tea (to stay hydrated); a bottle of lotion (for constant application to my dry itchy skin); hair brush (because I will need a hairbrush after every visit outside); headache medicine (because it usually gives me a headache); Chocolate (because that is good anytime!).

The wind seems to be over for the moment and here is the score: Two patio chairs tumbled over, one barbecue cover and one chair cover at the bottom of the back yard bank, and the lid of the outdoor cushion container ripped off its hinges. Just another day and night of wind in Southern California.

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2 responses

7 11 2011
S. Kay Murphy

I love this Raymond Chandler quote. James Brown, in The Los Angeles Diaries (a memoir I think you would enjoy) also has a great description of the Santa Anas.

7 11 2011
womaninthemid

I loved the Chandler quote as well. I hate to admit it but I stumbled across it on Wikipedia. I will check out The Los Angeles Diaries!

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