Every morning this winter when I drive to work, I'm inevitably overcome with a deep, nearly religious sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the grass and for the sunlight glancing through the oak trees, gratitude for the vineyards that are suffused with that golden mustard between the rows, the rolling hills, the whole postcard of where we live. Most of all, I'll admit it, I'm very aware of and grateful for the unnatural warmth we're blessed with in February. I can say this without reservation because, you see, I once lived back East.
This morning I spoke to my wife by phone. She's currently in Massachusetts, where the temperature is hovering around 28 degrees and there's a good foot of snow on the ground. That's lovely, I suppose, in its own way, but you can't compare it with here, or rather, you can, but only at the risk of your marriage. No one back East wants to hear that there is an alternate universe where the sun is always (mostly) shining and people are always smiling at one another and jogging along in their shorts and the surf is always up. It makes them uncomfortable to know this, as though they are trapped, as though they've been doing something terribly wrong all their lives, something that can't ever be corrected. So I don't share much about the weather. My wife says it may snow again, that the sky is darkening up, and I nod sagely from 3,000 miles away and say, "Oh, really? I hadn't heard". I don't tell her what I'm wearing, which isn't much, or that I haven't used the heat in our house for days, or that the camellias are blooming outside our bedroom window. That would be mean, and that's not who I am.