01 December 2011

Serenade for winds: I. Moderato, quasi marcia

Several days ago, the orange banner started streaming across the bottom of our TV set, warning of impending doom: a cold Santa Ana condition. According to the National Weather Service, Orange County was among the three counties expected to see the brunt of it. And they were talking winds of 50 mph with gusts up to 80 mph.

If you've had to withstand winds of 80 mph, you know it's not a lot of fun. The noise alone is enough to drive me mad. The year the daughter was born, we had to deal with a night of 120 mph winds (as measured by the Jet Propulsion Lab below our mesa), which left us without power for 4 days.

Really not fun.

So I spent the early part of the week getting stuff out of harm's way. The patio furniture, and the little lights that are around. Made sure that I had batteries for the lanterns, that necessary laundry was done, and there was food that could be easily cooked on the stove.

(Here's something to think about: if the power goes out, so does everything that runs on electricity. This is why my cooktop and water heater are both gas powered. Even if it's dark, I can cook and everyone can bathe... Trust me, this has come in handy on more than one occasion, to the envy of those in all-electric kitchens. And I'd be solar powered if it didn't cost about half of what my house is worth to install the panels.)

So, we hunkered down and waited for 7pm Wednesday night when Windmageddon was slated to begin.

But all was quiet. Around 9pm, I checked the news. To my surprise, I discovered that LAX was diverting flights because of heavy cross winds, and power was down all over LA County. I received an email from my MIL--who was sitting in the dark with her iPad--entitled "Blowing off the hill." I went to bed at 11 and peacefully slept through the night.

Upon waking, we were greeted with horrible photos out of Pasadena. Trees were down; buildings and cars were smashed.

The leaves out my window barely fluttered in the dawning light.

Around 9am, I finally raised my FIL on his cell phone. Their power was still down, so they couldn't get the cars out of the garage, but it sounded too dangerous to go out anyway. They were remarkably cheerful chatting about broken planters and another relative's market umbrellas floating about in the swimming pool.

I went out to run errands, bothered by no more than a stray breeze.

Finally, about an hour before I was due to pick up the daughter, we got some pretty substantial gusts and one of my garbage bins tipped over. By then, we'd been downgraded to a wind advisory.

I'm not disappointed that our adverse weather failed to materialize. I know there's plenty of time yet for us to see a really bad windstorm. I feel sorry for those who have to deal with the mess in LA County. I was especially unhappy to see that Altadena's Christmas Tree Lane lost trees. My friends and I used to visit every Christmas to see the lights when we were in college, and later, the spouse and I took the kids there every year. The deodars are huge, and at the holidays, resplendent in their lights.

And like the holidays, the Santa Anas are a yearly event, but definitely one I could live without.

Go listen to some music: "Serenade for Winds, Op. 44: I. Moderato, quasi marcia" by Dvorak. I guess my plotting to bring the in-laws down here paid off because their power came back on at midday so I could stop worrying.

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