What Autumn in Los Angeles Feels Like

The radio promised rain, or at least the 50/50 chance of it. A low sky, wind, and a block or so of spitting rain accompanied me down South Street and through the intersection of South with Clark Avenue. By then, 50 percent of my walk had been dry and 50 percent had been wet. The radio was right.

The sky was mostly blue through another quarter mile, the blue punctuated by rows of white clouds that seemed to be exactly the same size, exactly the same distance apart, and moving together south by east.

Rain from a concrete colored sky squalled through at lunchtime, followed by a deep band of black sky to the north and innocent blue overhead.

Today has been dividing up half-and-half almost too neatly.

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The seasons in my part of Los Angeles divvy up year after year just as today has. We had a bright autumn for a few days -- slanting light and sycamore trees casting off leaves just as golden -- along with the usual summer heat. We had some in-between days of intense sun laying down dense shadows beneath the ficus trees bordering the sidewalk, days when it was cold in the shadows and hot between the trees.

Today we had a typical winter's day. Later in the week, it's supposed to be in the low 80s.

The suburban landscape of my neighborhood is almost as divided. So much stays perpetually green, but enough turns brown to make it autumn. I crackled through sidewalk drifts of fall leaves, but the eucalyptus trees along South Street remain dense green above long, pale trunks.

Some lawns were brown along my way. Some haven't been watered all this year of drought, either from environmentalist conviction or from an underwater owner's loss of heart. Today's half rain, half mixed gray and blue won't have done them much good.

I'm not eager for daylight savings to end on Sunday, for the dark to fall by six. Perhaps it's just my mood that's fallen brown in an L.A. autumn and as the days shorten.

About the Author

D. J. Waldie is the author of "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir" and "Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles." He is a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times.
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