A Lonely Encounter of Fall’s Beginning

June 25, 2010
By Anna Schwab BRONZE, Orcutt, California
Anna Schwab BRONZE, Orcutt, California
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

She trembled in her empty bedroom, trying desperately to gather heat from the interior of her bedclothes. The window rattled before her, spurting out winds that were just cooling off from the hottest temperatures of the year. A dead mosquito hawk quivered in the corner, somehow sticking to the vibrating screen. Outside in the glaring sunshine, the few trees within her concrete development thrashed their leaves through the thin air, but none came fluttering down. The absence of clouds gave way to an empty sunlight that reflected off the driveways, blinding one’s eyes like snow on a sunny winter day. The streets were also empty, now that all the neighborhood kids had started the school year. Remnants of sidewalk chalk drawings remained on the driveways, and a week old mudpie incubated in the sun, petrified by its gleaming rays. Across the street, a pink tricycle and hose stood on its side in the front yard, struggling against the unrelenting winds. She shivered again from underneath the covers, and kicked around on the mattress to warm her feet. There must have been a crack in the window frame, because she could feel every gust of angry wind in icy trickles on her skin.

She was the victim of the California Central Coast autumn, when the ferocious Santa Ana winds start to cool off from their summer’s journey. The hot and dry gusts descend from the inland mountains of Southern California, blowing their way north and to the ocean, creating high speed bursts that ignore clouds or fog from the west, but close in on the end of summer with hot, uncomfortable air. The central coast is known for beautiful temperate summers, with light rain towards June, but hot temperatures in the beginning of August, due to these powerful winds. The first week of September, however, the wind immediately chills, maintaining its intensity and dryness, whipping the Central Coast’s trees for the remainder of fall, winter, and spring. The winds can give the coast a cold ghost-town feel, and since they bring no cloud cover, the sun’s reflection can bring dangerous driving conditions.

She resides in a small town in the middle of the Central Coast. She is homeschooled by religious, hardworking parents, and lives with one older sister. In her neighborhood this summer, the neighborhood kids could be seen playing soccer on the lawns and riding their bikes along the street. Around July 4th, they were licking popsicles and chasing each other with the hose. A red ice cream truck jingled its way through the neighborhood on Sunday afternoons, and it made frequent stops at their house, where after church she and her sister would beg their parents for a dollar fudgesicle. By August, sidewalks were painted in green, yellow, and pink chalk: pictures of parents and best friends, suns in sunglasses, and the beach with chalky orange crabs escaping from invading fishermen and pirates. Every night the sun would set a little earlier, casting a candle-like glow on the neighborhood, and the last few kids would run inside for dinner, leaving their last screams and squeals and messes behind to clean the next day. The ocean breezes, uninhibited by the Santa Ana winds, cooled the neighborhood off at night, allowing Jim across the street to work on his broken pick-up truck that had been broken since before he moved in.
Soon, however, all the summer-tanned children would be marching off to school, in long sleeves and wind breakers, with new pencils and new school friends, and their parents would be left behind to clean the messy yards their kids’ ruckus had left behind. Fall would begin, and the temperatures would fall to a level that would remain the same all throughout winter, until summer came again, and the winds had ceased blowing. She would remain home to witness the strange winds in the middle of the day that replaced her friends who would disappear to school.

She scampered out of bed to her desk across the room and snatched her history book. She knew that all her summer friends were probably doing their own homework, and her dad did not know that she was not working like a “good homeschool daughter” should be. On the way back to her bed, she grabbed her own wind-breaker, wrapping it around herself to ward off the freezing wisps of air from her window. The frame was old and dusty, the bottom runner slightly rusted and partially blocked by dead flies that could not find food in her room. The dead mosquito hawk tap-tapped against the window to the wind’s rhythm. She wondered if all the bugs were dead by the end of summer. She admired her tanned feet for a moment, then slid them quickly under the covers because they were too cold.

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