The way I remember it, the last day of school was always the hottest day of the year, capping at least a week of warm and sunny weather that brought with it the promise of spending every day of our impending summer vacation by the pool or at the beach. I didn't care that my parochial school forced us to wear dark shirts and corduroy pants when it was over ninety degrees outside, because in just a few days, the only corduroy I'd wear for months would be in the form of two-toned OP shorts.
Invariably, the first day of summer vacation arrived under cloudy and cold grey skies, and June Gloom settled in and stuck around until at least the Fourth of July.
I always felt cheated and ripped off. Why did the weather tease us so cruelly, and with such unforgiving regularity? Moreover, why did I fall for nature's cruel tricks year after year, and why was I suddenly wearing corduroy pants to stay warm?
I thought about this yesterday morning, as Anne and I prepared to walk our dog around the Rose Bowl. Mornings are almost always cool and damp down in the Arroyo Seco, and fog is quite common, especially this time of year.
"I think I should have worn long sleeves," I said to her as we got out of the car.
"No, it'll warm up soon, and you'll be glad you're in a T-shirt."
Seamus hopped out of the car and thumped his tail against the side of my leg.
"Someone's pretty excited to take a walk," I said.
Upon hearing the word walk, Seamus began wagging his entire body.
We met our friend Marie, who brought her dogs with her. Seamus adores her dog Quincy, and always wants to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with him, which we don't mind at all because it's adorable.
It seems like everyone loves my dog. Almost all the people who came toward and then passed us made some comment about how cute he was, or how happy he seemed.
"We really hit the jackpot with this little guy," I said.
"We really did," Anne said.
"I can't believe someone abandoned him."
"Yeah, people suck."
We walked around the Western side of the Rose Bowl, along the golf course. It seemed like every group I saw wasn't having any fun, which must have sucked for them because that course is expensive. I used to play golf about once a week at public courses that were close to La Crescenta, like Scholl Canyon in Glendale, De Bell in Burbank, and Eaton Canyon up in Altadena. Even though I was never any good, I still enjoyed it when I played with my friends. Most golfers took it way too seriously for my tastes, though, and getting grouped with guys who seemed to think that we were on the PGA Tour took all the fun out of it for me. If I play at all these days, it's usually at a 3 Par with one of my kids.
There's this saying that golf is "a good walk, spoiled", and I smiled to myself as I thought that I was on the better side of the fence between us, with little risk of anything spoiling my walk.
I guess we'd been walking for about ten minutes when I realized that the sun had burned off the last lingering vestiges of the marine layer, and my face and neck were warm.
"Good thing I didn't wear long sleeves," I said.
While Anne and Marie talked about mom things, I let my mind drift and opened my senses to the world around me. I heard the familiar low drone of a distant lawn mower, the fairly regular tink! of metal drivers shanking tee shots, and the quiet white noise of the 210 freeway, nearby. I smelled flowers and chemical fertilizer and wet grass, and when I reached down to pet Seamus, I felt heat radiating off his black fur.
I've been working a lot, spending most of my days confined to my office when I'm not on the set for something, and I haven't made much of an effort to get outside and enjoy the world. I don't think it's coincidence that I haven't felt particularly creative or able to write much of anything narrative for my blog. Getting outside and experiencing a significant change of scenery, opening myself up to whatever sensory input I could, felt good; by the time we got to the clubhouse on the Eastern side of the golf course, just over two and a half miles into the three mile walk, I felt like my writing mojo was beginning to return.
"I'm going to write about this," I thought to myself. "I don't know what it's really going to be about, but I'm going to write about it, for the sake of writing. It probably won't be particularly interesting or entertaining, but if I'm going to get to the interesting and entertaining stuff again, I have to grind out some boring stuff."
I walked into the clubhouse to use the bathroom. It was cooler inside than it was outside, and the faint smells of sterno and banquet food lingered in the air.
When I opened the bathroom door, there were two old white guys inside using the urinals. One of them leaned on a cane, nodding along as the other one said, "...and now that there's so darn many women everywhere, you can't just take a leak on a tree whenever you want to!"
He spoke with equal parts lamentation and indignation, and as they walked over to the sink to wash their hands, I knew that, even if I didn't have something interesting to write about, there was at least one small part that was going to be entertaining.
I washed my hands and went back outside to meet Anne and Marie so we could finish our walk. I told them about a world, forgotten by all but a few aging men who once lived in it, where every tree belonged to every man and no woman ever came between them.
"I'm really glad I came out here to walk with you guys today," I said.