Before I start, I want to make it clear that I am not complaining. I know I risk the wrath of my readers who live in the Midwest, the Northeast, or the Canada who are dealing with some seriously cold and snowy weather. For me to even hint at a distaste for the weather here would be, well distasteful. The summer in Bakersfield, as I know I’ve mentioned before, is one endless string of sunny, blazing hot days. And all this glorious heat seems desirable until you realize that temperatures around or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day for months on end can be as mentally taxing as those endless gray, snowy, or freezing days in whatever wintry climate you may be reading from. In that kind of heat you can’t go outside for any enjoyable period of time, you can’t breathe, you can’t sit on your car seat without second degree burns. And as the calendar suggests the approach of autumn you expect some sign of the mercury dropping, and then it doesn’t. Fall is just as hot as summer. People put on Uggs with mini-skirts in shorts, I guess just because they get jealous of people in normal climates being able to change wardrobe. In Bakersfield the weather doesn’t have the glorious, prolonged life and death cycle that people in Northern Michigan get to enjoy. In Bakersfield, or so it seems, it’s hot, dusty, sunny and hot until one day, the fog rolls in.
Just like that. The climate, elevation, surrounding mountains and other mystical forces join together to create a perfect spot for heavy fog to settle in on a fairly regular basis once winter actually arrives. These people have no idea the joy a snow day can bring to schoolchildren who love snowangels and daytime television, but they understand the temporary relief that a two-hour fog delay can bring on a school day when you need extra sleep. And on those days, I drive to work on nearly deserted, almost invisible streets. I know the fog brings longer commutes, dampness and colder temperatures that the locals might not really enjoy, but I love the feeling of those days. During the hot times, you just lay flat, preferably
not touching any other human, and hope for some cooling effect from the air conditioner. Even when things cool down a bit, the late autumn days are unremarkable, each one room temperature and dry. So the foggy days give me a dose of medicine to ease my always present homesickness. Foggy days do their best to replace snowy days or chilly rainy days that make Michiganders stick close to home, light a fire, boil some tea and get cozy. Foggy days cover the tops of palm trees, leaving only the more familiar deciduous trees visible. Foggy days blur out the mountains, even more effectively than the smoggy days do, letting your imagination run wild just for a minute. When you can’t see the horizon or the vast desert that leads to those hills, you can almost see the forest, beach and freshwater lake in front of you.
The stems of palm trees lead to nowhere, and a barely visible sign for Bakersfield’s famous Mexican food.
The view from my office at 9am.