January in San Diego

January 27, 2011 @ 6:31 pm | Filed under:

January in San Diego is still, after four years, messing with my head.

Hang on, five years! Our fifth January here, that is. We moved here in October of 2006. So that’s five winters, right? 2007, 8, 9, 10, 11?

Five winters here. I’m reading all your posts and Facebook updates and tweets about the snow, snow, snow, and it’s almost surreal. I have this cherry tomato plant leftover from last summer, baked brown and crispy by the October heat, that sprang back to life after our freakish December rains. It is loaded with fruit now, green arms bent low to the ground, hung all over with orange-red globes. A southern California Christmas tree of sorts. Huck and Rilla don’t even like tomatoes—juice? seeds? are you trying to poison them??—but they can’t wait to run outside at lunchtime and fill a bowl for me.

Scott and I go out walking in the mornings now. It’s jacket weather until the sun is high, or maybe only sweater weather. Chilly on the shady side of the street, warm on the sunny side. When the kids go out bike-riding in the afternoons, they complain of the heat.

The hibiscus bushes are blooming in all the neighbors’ yards, giant hedges of them. Ice plant with its many-skinny-petaled flowers, a brash magenta. Cape honeysuckle—there’s a big one in our backyard, a tree really—thick with orange trumpet flowers the hummingbirds love.

I haven’t heard the parrots this week. Last week they were racketing from tree to tree all over the neighborhood.

My poppy seedlings are going to perish if I don’t get around to watering soon. Watering the garden in January! Five winters is not enough to normalize that for me.

In the schoolyard behind us, the sunflowers are tall. I forgot to plant any in our yard until last week—Rilla helped me. We just grabbed a handful from the birdseed bin. We’ve got nasturtiums coming up all over the place. I love their leaves almost as much as their flowers—like lily pads for our ladybugs.

My dear friend Eileen has been posting the most gorgeous photos (and words too, achingly beautiful) on her blog—pictures of her snowy rural Virginia landscape with soft, contoured mountains in the background. They make me miss Virginia like crazy, miss Eileen’s homey kitchen with the big mixing bowl always ready for cookie dough. I read her blog and I’m filled with longing, almost envy…I, who love snow to look at but am generally miserable in cold, having, as I do, the circulation of an octogenarian.

Then I have to laugh at myself—I told Eileen this in her comments today—for coveting her snowy landscape. I know many of you are suffering from all these repeated dumpings of snow. This photo someone linked to on Facebook today, taken in Huntington, Long Island, made me laugh and wince all at once. I know we’re in the climate people dream of fleeing to in the winter. I’d be dreaming of it myself if I lived in the East.

But much as my blood appreciates the sun, the warm, my brain can’t quite get a handle on it.

January in Southern California. It’s just so totally trippy, dude.

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13 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. MelanieB says:

    So trippy! I’m looking outside at about four feet of snow in my front yard. The banks are about chest high on me. Over Bella’s head, though that didn’t stop her from climbing up this evening and trying to make a train with big snowballs. My trellises on which we grew green beans this summer are almost buried. I can’t even see the tops of my tomato plants any more. Sigh. I think maybe I need a vacation to Southern California.

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Melanie, come out out—I’ll save you some tomatoes.

  3. MelanieB says:

    Oh don’t I wish! Looking at your photo I can almost taste them.

  4. Eileen Smithdeal says:

    Oh, my dear.
    What lovely photos, yourself…and it’s like you’re living in a different world. Is it possible? I never get over how we all live such different lives on this earth, yet we are only a click away from sharing our realities.
    Well, sort of…somehow I can’t taste those delectable looking tomatoes, and you can’t smell my cookies baking. But maybe one day soon? You never know.
    Just reading how you miss us makes me really miss you 🙁
    Glad you and Scott are walking every morning.

  5. tanita says:

    I read this post aloud to D., who lay on the floor and drummed his heels. “Who is this person? Why does she write to TORTURE ME???” he groaned.

    As natives, we miss California sun like wow and oh-my-word this time of year. But thank you for snapping pictures of it and reminding us of how wonderful it can be. We’ve lived in winterland, Scotland, for four years now, and we’re convinced we don’t actually like cold either… and D’s PhD orals are going to be done in May.

    We are so out of here.

    But, I love my tights and boots and I know I’ll miss frigid nights and scarves and black ice and numb fingers, too. Okay, maybe not so much those last ones…

  6. David T. Macknet says:

    Meanwhile, as the PhD winds down (7 months left!), we’re thinking that we want to find someplace as warm as San Diego – someplace where we can grow tomatoes, rather than growing mold.

    We don’t have the snow in Glasgow any more … just the miserable cold, which sucks the air from your lungs when you walk, and which means that the heater must run for about 5 hours before the house is at all warm. We wear multiple layers when inside, and even hats some days. Outside, we wear hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, and coats on top of sweaters.

    And it’s dark, dark.

  7. Jordin says:

    WOW!! just wow. tomatoes growing in January. We have a few feet of snow. And i love it.

  8. Penny says:

    Proof you are an amazing writer: You manage to torture us with beautiful California while at the same time helping us be grateful for our snow.

    lol Bloom where you’re planted eh?

    Lovely photos 🙂

  9. Ellie says:


    I can’t quite picture spring, and flowers. Winter is carrying a surreal permanency this year. Eat some extra tomatoes for me! :^)

  10. Anne says:

    The parrots! I remember the parrots from when we lived in Pacific Beach when my husband was finishing up flight training for the Navy!
    And I had a hard time wrapping my head around winter in SD too 🙂

  11. AZ says:

    Beautiful shots!

    9 years of childhood papaer-routing in Michigan winters gave me my fill of snow… I do my best to keep inside during the winters now.

  12. teresa says:

    It doesn’t tempt me at all!
    I lived in S.Cal for 18 years and
    hated the Santa Ana winds and year around weeding. Thank God for snow to kill the weeds. LOL. How ironic that I hated tomatoes then but love them now.
    I do miss the hummingbirds though.