Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The California Report: Autumn

Posted by Christie

Gap-toothed jack-o-lanterns still sit, grinning, at the bottom of my front porch steps, but I’ve taken out my vintage John Alden and Priscilla figurines. I’m the family’s Official Thanksgiving Hostess, so I’m making my lists in preparation. However, I’ve already had my quintessential California autumn experience.

Over the weekend I attended a two-day interscholastic surf competition. My friend from South Carolina thought I was kidding when I said Son 2 is on his school’s surf team. It’s no joke. He competed in the body board and long board categories for the first time last Saturday. The weather was incredible. 75+ degrees on the sand, water temp, 67.

Now, I’ve watched plenty of surfing, but this was my first competition. Each school had a tent with tables inside loaded with food and drinks. The federation has its own tents for judges and a PA system to broadcast announcements and results as well as to play music across the long stretch of sand they’d reserved. The song selections were everything from rap to rock and no one seemed concerned about the sometimes-questionable lyrics, but me. This is a laid back kind of crowd.

Competition occurred in 15-minute heats with up to six surfers on the waves. Judges awarded points to the competitors based on their two best rides. But I learned more about the surfing culture the hours I was there. Farther down the beach was the general surfing area and let me tell you—the girls are braver than the men out there. 67 degrees is pretty darn cold and most of the young women on the waves were in bikinis instead of wetsuits! Surfer Guy explained that surfer girls aren’t out on the water just to show off their moves. Those that were in wetsuits wore their hair loose and long…which seemed anti-athletic but awfully Ariel. Each one of them a mermaid of the Pacific.

On the second day I was strolling beside Son 2 toward our car. He’d just been shut out of the semi-finals, but he was smiling. Unlike summer, only the top quarter-inch of sand was warm and cool grains sifted through my Croc sandals, even though the sun was hot on my bare shoulders. We walked between the dozen beach volleyball courts where a Halloween tournament was in play. A young woman dressed in a mini-poodle skirt chased after a ball, almost plowing into a guy player dressed in janitor overalls.

Son 2 looked up, his smile going wider. “It’s been a good day, huh?”

Yeah, a very good, very California autumn day.

Have you had your quintessential autumn experience yet? Maybe it was just a smell or a shift in the light. I’d love to hear about it!


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Christie, what a terrific story. *Sigh* I could almost miss California...

Quintessential autumn experience: Did I mention acorns? I believe I did. For a while there, they were hitting the ground all around me each time I went out to rake and sweep them up.

Finally, two days ago, one fell on my head. It made a really weird cracking sound. Oh, yeah. Now I know fershure Autumn is really here!

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Kim said...

Ok, acorns.

Several years ago now, when my middle son was about 3--he went to the daycare at our church--they had the biggest oak trees around the church grounds. Michael would bring home hand fulls of acorns every day for me....why? Because I collected them of course! It was a little known collection, so well hidden--I didn't even realize that I did it!

One day, another boy tried to get in on the acorn action--Michael decided to try to strangle him--not to hurt him you understand, but more to let him know that cutting in on the acorn trade simply wasn't acceptable. The daycare staff, and Dad and I were very specific with him--that we needed to "use our words" and tell the teacher when someone tried to take our stuff. (read: steal our acorns) So, you use your words and then tell the teacher--well the next day---the boy tried again to get in the acorn trade--Michael used his words, told the teacher and then tried to choke him....he just thought that was the natural progression of things. 1. words 2. teacher 3. choking.

Michael to this day is my leave it all on the playground kid. I never have to worry about anyone intimidating him--he is 7 feet tall in his 4 foot body.

We might have weather this weekend for raking (and jumping in) leaves. That is a job that I leave to the men in my house...isn't that kind of me?

Have a lovely Friday ladies!


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Kim, I love this story! I so remember the "use your words" years. Somehow the kids always did find a way to "use their words"--and more!

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

Kim: LOL! I love that story. Boys are very literal, aren't they?

We don't have acorns around my house but the mention brings back great memories. I went to White Oaks Elementary School and there were acorns all around as well as things we called "oak balls." They had a styrofoam consistency and you could make people out of them by sticking twigs in for arms and legs.

I hadn't thought of those in a long time. Sure brings back a smile. Thanks!

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Ah, another California quintesential Autumn moment... I actually wore JEANS the other day. It was just too chilly for shorts, so had to resort to long pants.

A sure sign of the change of seasons in OC!

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

Okay--I don't have a bonding acorn story, but the leaves have all changed here in the pacific northwest. There are a lot of evergreens around, then a splash of red or yellow as some non-evergreen trees changes color.

Hmm, this would be more meaningful if I knew the names of the trees. They're tall...does that help?

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

Susan: A few years back, we were visiting my mom in Northern California in the fall. Son 2 was blown away by all the beautiful colored leaves. Native San Diegan, Surfer Guy, was peeved at his amazement. "We have leaves that change color too, you know!" Hah. He couldn't name one tree that changed in our yard in San Diego, nor did he recognize any tree with pretty leaves around my mom's house. (Not that I could name any of them either, except for those oaks with acorns.)

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Oak balls. Hmmm... Never heard of those. I know liquidambar trees (also known as sweet gums here in OK) have those prickly balls that are every bit as irritating as acorns.

Yes, Susan. I am showing off my tree knowledge.

And there are just so many varieties of oaks, now aren't there? Black oaks, red oaks, live oaks, Shumard oaks...

Next I will discuss evergreens...


At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the foliage in Georgia has been really pretty the past week. I was thinking on my way home from work how "so Autumn" it felt. Oh, and the temps are forcasted for the high 20's tonight!!!!


At 7:18 PM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

Kim...high twenties?

Wow. Even in northern California as a kid I don't think we had temps that cold very often. We do get thirties here at night, believe it or not. Not often, though.

I'm knitting my very first scarf ever! I'll be able to wear it in our autumn temps.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Hey Christie, sorry I didn't get to read your story until today but it brought back some great memories for me.

I dated a few surfers and some lifeguards and--well, let's not relive Kate's entire wild youth, okay? Anyway, I grew up in Manhattan Beach and now I live in Venice Beach, but in between, I spent a few formative years in San Diego. I spent all my time at the beach and your story reminded me of the Over the Line tournaments in Mission Bay. Went to a few of them when I was in college. OMG, those were some wild times.

I don't think I could ever move away from the beach. Now that it's colder, the air is a little cleaner and the traffic has lightened up a little. I love walking along the shore and seeing the choppy water and the ruffled sand dunes after a night of Santa Ana winds. Sigh.

Thanks again for sharing your day with us!

At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had our fall day yesterday. It had warmed up to the upper 50s with sunshine, so my husband raked leaves, while the kids and I jumped into the leaf piles. My daughter just loves it. My husband didn't think it was as much fun as he had to keep raking. :) I love those warm autumn days, it reminds me why I live in the midwest.


At 7:38 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Cady, here our leaves are just starting to fall. I don't appreciate them as I should. Like your dh. I just think about how they need raking...

Kate, I think we do need to relive your wild youth. Every juicy detail, baby... Mwahaha.


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