“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.” — Raymond Chandler, “Red Wind”
Aunt Annette and Uncle Paul in Chicopee, Massachusetts, still don’t have power on after that freak snowstorm blindsided the East Coast in late October. Here in Los Angeles nothing so devastating has occurred weatherwise, but this morning the Santa Ana winds did arrive, making this the kind of day where ions are so active and static electricity so intense you don’t dare pet a cat. Our house is divided over these seasonal winds, with the breakdown in approval/disapproval generally falling along skin types. Oily skins love it. The sailor in the house loves it. And robust nervous systems usually have no quarrel with these winds blowing out of the cooling high deserts, but the Santa Anas have been notoriously to blame for all manner of calamities and crimes, as Joan Didion explains in this quote from “Los Angeles Notebook.”
“Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.â€
Kate Braverman in “Lithium for Medea” also finds the winds menacing:
“The Santa Ana winds were blasting through the streets, bristling and smelling of desert, of white sunlight, of sharp, wiry plants and white rock…A hot madness was enclosing the city.”
Doomsday literature aside, really, if you keep the lip balm handy, you’ll be fine.
(Brought to you by that imperturbable weather girl, Evie the cat.)