The Weather: Reality is not Virtual

It’s February 20 in LA, 9 a.m. the morning warm and bright and clear-washed from last  night’s rain, with an underlayer of cold that tells me it’s still February, but songbirds trill from every direction–songbirds we don’t hear much anymore, the surprise of birdsong in the middle of the city… my yard is a steep hillside which I  recently terraced with the proceeds from an unexpected movie option  on Paint It Black… the weeds as lush as the purposely planted white lantana and geraniums and semperviums, grasses with fountains of green which will go to brown burrs as the season progresses, but right now, begging for the trimming of little goats.

I always do the weather, I cannot recommend this exercise enough–for writers and non-writers alike–just to remind us what tools we have as human beings, to appreciate the world.   I recommend keeping a weather notebook.  It’s hard to remember February when you’re sweltering in the firepit of August.  I couldn’t invent the dinnerplate sized rosettes of sempervium swollen with rain in a rock wall, or the slow purposeful bees visiting the white lantana, this liquid warbling of songbirds–mockingbirds, robins! I didn’t think we’d see robins again in LA–the fat white clouds with gray hearts sailing silently across the newwashed indigo of hte morning sky, the tiny leaves of the jackaranda dusted over terrace and chairs and the warming earth like scraps of confetti after a parade.

How easy it is to pull a clump of grass or wild buckwheat from the earth, the warming, slaked soil fat with life, yeasty as bread.  The plump green of the elephant’s food jade plant dug up last summer during construction and roughly stuck next to the fence, I never thought it would revive.

The sound of the neighbor’s chipper/shredder–a city morning is never silent, I hear the traffic on the freeway at the bottom of my hill–but not much traffic, it’s early  on saturday morning.  The smell of eucalyptus from my huge ancient shaggy monster, that’s shedding sage green leaves and twisted reddish bark and the five-hole-punched buttons of its seeds into Escher patterns on the ground. That silvery scent, antiseptic.

I do the weather to stay tuned to the phenomenon of the real world.  Reality is not virtual.  The weather is everything–time of day, light and shadow, scent, textures and patterns, sound, the three dimensions, distance, what’s blooming, what’s bare… and how I feel this morning, after rain… the gradual darkening of the day as the white clouds with their gray hearts begin to join one another… the joy of being awake in the private morning, my coffee and my notebook (this is transcribed) my boyfriend down in the house still asleep, how careful I was not to wake him up, I love this time by myself… then wish he would wake up and join me out here.

and how I’d spent a few hours with my mother yesterday, who (she woudln’t like me to say how old she is) needs to think if she wants to stay in her house or move into a condo… I can think of the reasons she should move–the maintenance, the stairs!–but now I think, that as we get older, we spend more and more time at home, and I don’t think she would enjoy life without her garden–even if she just sees it through her windows… I can imagine her right now, looking out at her roses–no, no roses, they’re just bare canes now–at her citrus trees full of fruit, the nandina with its tea-leaf foliage and red berries…

All this is the weather.


4 Responses to “The Weather: Reality is not Virtual”

  1. Starr Kuzak Says:

    Janet – I am a fan of yours who writes as a hobby. I love White Oleander and Paint it Black. I took your advice and wrote on the weather this morning. Thanks for the inspiration. This is in between making breakfast for my kids and getting them dressed. I live outside of Detroit and it’s snowing today. The sky is white, the air is slippery wet. I can hear the plows from a distance and wait patiently until they save me. We are painted clean, a temporary baptism. The squirrels are in hiding, sound asleep in their flimsy nests. By noon, it is apparent that I must dig my way out. The shadows are sucked up by the mass of white. The oaks and maples stand strong, their branches reach high like the arms of a parent, catching what is hard to love.

  2. litscribbler Says:


    Good seeing you the other night. I love this weather entry. This morning I was in my garden weeding out some growth that came in after the rains–and yes, the soil was definitely yeasty. I too love eucalyptus trees: ‘silverly’ scent indeed…

    Re: your blog showing up in Google searches… You might try registering it at Blog Catalog, which seems to have helped people find mine.

    I’ll try to make your Silver Lake reading in April.

    Best, Scott Doyle

  3. […] Fitch keeps a weather journal, and says why on her blog: It’s hard to remember February when you’re sweltering in the firepit […]

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