When I stepped outside to catch the airport shuttle back to my car, the icy wind made me wonder if I had gotten off my plane in the wrong city. It seemed that the unseasonably warm weather I'd left behind in L.A. when I went to visit my family for Thanksgiving had been ushered out of town like a trollop wearing an unseemly amount of rouge. Mother Nature seemed ready to celebrate the winter holidays, even in the allegedly seasonless city of L.A.
I woke up the next morning to a driveway full of sun-browned fronds that the palm trees had doffed during the blustery night. I worried my coastlike hike would be a dust bowl of churning grit, but the winds were tame and the gloom of onshore flow had been sent scuttling to reveal a turquoise-to-dark-blue-to-silver-streaked sea that could make the Mediterranean green with envy. The city was scrubbed clean, too. Like an aging diva after a chemical peel, it looked years younger. Fall leaves of scarlet and bronze (yes, foliage changes color on cue on the left coast, too) trembled in the breeze and the people I passed on the trail were preternaturally chipper and light in their hiking boots. It was as if they'd never seen a strip mall in their lives.