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10.27.2006

Blowing Like a Circle Around My Skull 

Spend a few days in San Francisco and you're sure to notice the weather coming from the west. Usually that means banks of fog borne on a brisk wind, quite often in mid-summer when tourists come to California expecting hot sand and surfboards and golden tans.

Spend years in San Francisco and this constant movement from the west -- a left-to-right lean of flags and trees, garbage skittering down the street -- becomes ingrained. Then, once or twice a year, you step outside and something doesn't seem as it should. Keys? Wallet? Check. Forgot to put on underwear? No, it's there. Everyone in the neighborhood has gotten a subtle haircut? Probably not.

You realize what it is. The wind is blowing from the east. Trees are moving right to left. It's as if the world reversed polarity while you were asleep.

Today is one of those days, and the wind not only comes from the east, it howls and huffs, making the closed door to my bedroom rattle with each barometric shudder.

It's a warm wind, dry like old newspaper, suspect in late October even to a native, redolent of earthquake and firestorm. My eyes water, my skin itches. It's our scirocco, our föhn, our Santa Ana. We grind our teeth without thinking, we bite our lips and peel dry bits of skin from them, we wonder why we're not enjoying the weather. This haunted-house wind from the desert bears whispers of strange times to come, for sure.

For some, it is a new political era. For others, the end of the housing bubble. For me, it's the static electricity. The air's so dry I get shocked every time I touch metal. Even worse, it fills me with dread of the off-season of expectation. Much like the Congressional rebuild all the pundits say we're about to usher in, the Giants are supposed to emerge from the winter with fresh, new ideas, an energy to right many of the wrongs of the past few years, seasons of misguided priorities and failed policies.

But on days like today, I feel nothing but foreboding under blue skies. Maybe it's the sound of dry brown maple leaves scratching like the devil's claws down the sidewalk. It's like I walked into a Cormac McCarthy novel. Anytime now a half-starved mule train will stumble out of the asthmatic haze with the driver's bug-eyed corpse still at the helm, shot through the neck and slumped in the saddle.

Maybe it's the disconnect between the temperature and the inevitable descent into late-afternoon dusk (always a bummer). Maybe it's the knowledge that new regimes can quickly turn stale.

Bruce Bochy? Really? OK, sure, I guess. But can anything truly change if the general manager and the chief executive remain?

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