People will tell you there aren't distinct seasons in Los Angeles, a claim whose vague intentions usually lurk somewhere behind conviviality, in the shadows of bitterness. In that moment, the stately columns of incredible weather, sunshine, and good vibes--the columns on which we Californians generally prop the whole parthenon of our already quake-prone existence--begin to crumble. And in that moment, try though we might to scrape together a few filaments of evidence to serve as the opposing viewpoint, we merely shrug in defeat. Because the truth is that our mudslides and our wildfires and our Santa Anas do more to herald the changing season than a few bluish crocuses gnawing through an early thaw ever could.
It's a shoddy defense, after all--the same defense which also conjures the existence of an "earthquake season" out of the ether or claims that 72 degrees in December somehow feels different than 72 degrees in May. Sure, maybe we're defenseless. We don't have foamy cherry blossom clouds storming petals through most of March like the Northwest does. We don't live in the austere cave of leafless trees and grey skies for the first two months of the year like the East Coast. We aren't smothered under a quilt of snow like the Midwest is, even as April rolls into May. Our trees don't erupt in beatific oranges and reds and russets and goldens in late September. So no, our seasons certainly aren't like normal seasons.
But that doesn't mean they aren't there, vibrating faithfully just beneath the surface of all the commerce, of the urban sprawl, of the asphalt and palm trees and yawning sunshine.
There's a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean near my house, a hill utterly lacking in description most of the year. Eleven months out of twelve, it's merely a tangled brown shoulder of land. But for two or three weeks in March, if we've had a few good rains, the entire hillside transforms into a verdant kaleidoscope of greenery. Rivulets of grass flow toward the sea, wildflowers twinkle into existence, and the whole thing slowly blinks awake, as if for the first time ever.
Yes, the weather we get here belongs in the clutches of consistency. It's true that the sun warms the skin of countless arms wagging from car windows in January and that rain passes through with the frenetic brevity of a mosquito's lifespan. But for a few short weeks, we're privy to a city alive with springtime, from the neon jacarandas with their silken plumes to air that's drowsy with the scent of jasmine.
Recently I told a friend that Spring is coming, and I meant it, too--the acrid pall of skunks and the dank perspiration from the nearby ocean are slowly receding. In their place, flowers are starting to bloom, their loveliness unfurling with a shyness found only in places where concrete deadens the proclivities of nature.
Sometimes the signs aren't abundantly clear.
Sometimes one has to pay closer attention.
But make no mistake: Spring is almost here.
These are stills I pulled from some video I shot back in 2010, during just such a springtime, on just such a hillside.