Don’t be mad at me but apparently it is spring here in San Diego, maybe even summer. I know many of you are hunkered down by the woodstove peering wistfully out the window at your cars, roads and, most importantly, gardens covered by a foot of snow, but here in SoCal we’ve been dealing with higher than average temperatures (we broke a 75-year heat record with 86F last week! In February!). Hot, dry Santa Ana winds are blowing in from the desert. My eyes are dry and gritty, my sinuses are killing me. I hear the sound of teeny tiny violins playing for me… oh wait, that’s just you. Smart ass.
I know, I’m whining about too much sunshine and I’m sorry but I can’t bear it! While I can’t imagine suffering through a polar vortex the fact remains that I live here because the weather
is was perfect. Mornings foggy, days sunny and 72F, cool evenings. That was the agreement. Here by the coast we’ve never seen many days higher than mid-80’s. My dad complains because it’s never “beach weather” when he visits, meaning blazing hot, not a cloud in the sky, the ocean a refreshing 80F, but more and more we are having these so-called beach days and they’re not waiting for summer.
While the weather here keeps getting warmer, I seem to be heading the other direction. I’ve always considered myself solar-powered but I now prefer it when there’s a little chill in the air. I still LOVE sunshine, but I don’t love heat. (The fact that this change coincided with my disinterest in galloping across the beach in a bikini is purely incidental, by the way.)
This subject came up the other day with a friend who relocated here from Seattle. It wasn’t one of those casual “nice weather we’re having” conversations, it was serious because it has reached the point where Jon and I are considering pulling stakes and moving our tent to cooler climes. I was trying to describe my ideal weather, which is basically sunny and crisp, warm enough during the day without being hot, cooling down at night, dewy in the morning. No snow, some rain and fog appreciated (not too much, thank you) blah blah blah. I go on and on until I realize my friend is looking at me and nodding his head at which point I pause. “Lettuce weather,” he says. That’s it. Two simple, perfect words. Lettuce. Weather.
He is calm (because he is a normal person) but I am ecstatic! He gets it! It’s a thing! I have not been able to get those two words out of my head since I heard them. I posted a photo to Instagram, tagged it #lettuceweather and expected a flurry of activity. Check it out – go there now. Search #lettuceweather. My photo is the only one that shows up! How can this be?? LETTUCE WEATHER! My friend is a freaking genius!
I suppose if you aren’t a gardener maybe the words mean nothing to you, but anyone who grows lettuce will understand immediately. Lettuce is a cool season crop. It likes to be kept moist, it likes a little rain and fog. It likes sunshine but not blazing heat. According to Mother Earth News: “From baby leaf lettuce to big, crisp heads, growing lettuce is easy in spring and fall, when the soil is cool. All types of lettuce grow best when the soil is kept constantly moist, and outside temperatures range between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.” Me too!
Kale also prefers cool, moist weather, though we manage to keep it alive through summer by growing it in a shaded spot. Unfortunately this drought is making the “constantly moist” part of growing all greens a bit difficult, but I’m finding they are pretty resilient as long as they get a cool shower on the hottest days. Hey, me too!
So that brings us to the end of my whine-fest and delivers us to the important part of the story, which is our imminent move north. We have fallen in love with the geography, weather, lifestyle and politics of western Sonoma County. We adore all the cute towns with their individual charms and personalities. Sebastopol, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Occidental – any one will do.
We are doing our research and visiting as often as possible. Hopefully within the year we will find ourselves on a sunny and breezy little homestead with a creek, a lush garden and an orchard. We will eat homegrown vegetables, collect fresh eggs, nibble local cheese and sip local wine as we watch the fog roll in over the coastal range and breathe in the cool night air. Once in a while we will cross the orchard to chat with the neighbor over the fence, handing them a basket of fresh picked greens and saying, “Isn’t this wonderful lettuce weather we’re having?”