Los Angeles is not, by nature, an introverted, bundled up, snuggly, gray, rainy city.
But this year, the rains came early.
And we have had several weeks of storms, cold nights, blustery evenings.
And sparkling days with intermittent showers and drizzles, puddles and frost.
Nearby, up in the mountains, the nights are much colder and snow has fallen, snow that is visible way down here in the San Fernando Valley.
These few days, between Christmas and New Year’s, transformed and tamed the City of Angels into a Portlandia: wool sweaters, hot green tea in gloved hands, dog walkers and hikers encased in down jackets and flannel shirts, Icelandic wool caps and long scarves.
In Studio City, at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon, Laurel Tavern was filled with down-vested drinkers.
In Van Nuys, there were hardly any barking dogs left outside at night.
Only the occasional swoop of the helicopter…
I went up to the rocky, steep and trampled dirt of Runyon Canyon a few days ago. From that high altitude, I climbed higher to a mountain overlook, a physical cliff, where the streets spread out below in every direction and I could see for miles from downtown to Catalina Island.
This is where you come with your parents when they visit from out of town.
And you can sometimes convince them of this city’s virtues, because they meet its bright views absent its shady people.
And again today I went up into Wilacre Park above Studio City to capture something as brief and beautiful as a child walking for the first time: a sun and smog cursed city magnificently and somberly draped in dark and gray clouds, chilled, sobered and intellectualized by the absence of suffocating heat and blinding light.
A meteorological delusion. This is not Los Angeles. But the camera captured it. It must be real.
Refreshed and purified, swept clean for the New Year, the city and the region, ready to welcome 2013, another year, which will once again dump its toxins of illness, worry, debt, violence, deceit, sadness and broken hearts into our lingering days.
I could live here happily if it just looked sadder a few more months of the year.