It’s 72 degrees, sunny, and the air is clear enough so that I have a beautiful view of downtown Los Angeles from the window of my office. I’m going to knock off for the day and go hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, about a ten minute drive from work and a five minute drive from home.
Today is unseasonably warm, but unless it’s actually raining I can count on being able to hike comfortably any day of the year. Even on a hot summer day it’s so dry that outdoor exercise is comfortable.
Once I get past the first hill, there’s no traffic noise unless the wind is from the north, and I can see the ocean, Catalina Island, the whole sweep of the city, Mandeville Canyon right below me, the Santa Susanna Mountains rolling away on the other side of the San Fernando Valley, and three or four ridges beyond them to the north and west. If I go hiking in the evening after a hot day, the heat rising from the valley floor makes the city lights twinkle like stars. Usually the sunsets aren’t much — not enough clouds — but once in a while some cirrus happen to be right over the mountain peaks behind which the sun sets, and then the show is spectacular, with the clouds lit intensely against the darkening sky. It looks as if the mountains were covered with burning snow. Less showy, but equally impressive in its way, is watching the fog from the ocean roll in like a river. Being on a hilltop completely surrounded by fog and looking up at the stars is something you don’t soon forget.
Please don’t tell any of the Bostonians who felt sorry for me when I moved from Harvard to UCLA. Why shatter their illusions?