When the shades rattle at 5AM with the first breezes, you know that Santa Ana Winds have returned. These annual winds come reliably near the end of October to dry out the hills, fan fires, and chap lips. To me, they also mark the last transition from Summer to Autumn, as if he heat of the season is finally blowing away and the cool air allowed to set in.
We celebrated their return last year, as we are celebrating now. I keep them in mind all year long. I prune trees for them (you must not be top-heavy, the winds are coming!), I set out chimes for them (to hear their songs), and after they have departed, I shut off the irrigation to the lawns as a farewell to the dry season and an invitation to the rains.
While their breathy scourge is both a blessing and a challenge, the Santa Ana’s remain a sign post that, for all the strange weather lately, there are still some things that remain the same. It is a comfort, a marker of time, something to be counted on. Their hand shapes this place, and they are welcome here.