The coldest Southern California winter I recall was in the early ’90s, though it might have had less to do with the actual temperatures than with the situation under which I endured them. My friends and I lived on the absolute fringes and were forced into unusual choices to survive.
The house in which we lived was destined for demolition. There was no heat. The hardwood floors in the bedrooms radiated cold, penetrating our barely-there futon matresses and the thin slats of the frame sitting mere inches above the boards. We had one space heater, I think, and we’d huddle around it during waking hours. At night though…
We’d wear knit caps to bed. Layers of sweats under every available blanket. And socks on our hands. The tub/shower had a drainage problem, so you had to bail the brackish gray water before you stepped inside. You could never get it all though, so every shower began with an ankle-high cocktail, so ice-cold as to be almost solid.
We drank a lot, too.
Now, my central heat fires up quickly and effectively, but the weather outside is frightful. It’s not just the chill, the temps hitting the mid-30s at night. It is the wind, bone-numbing and constant. I’m well aware some of you might be reading this in an actual tundra, but we’re talking relative issues here. Those of you in the north and east are inured to the cold, hardened by the seasons over the years. I’m a native Californian, never lived anywhere else, and I will not stand for snow flurries, one of which occured the other day while I waited for my train.
It’s not just the white stuff that’s flurrying either. SoCal is in a constant state of development and every street corner is a construction site. The heavy lifters and diggers are turning the earth, loosening the dirt for it to be swept up by the gales. Sahara-style visibility, another hazard on the roads choked with swaying semis and thrashing Toyotas.