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How to Identify SoCal Autumn
What even is an Autumn?
It’s finally November which, contrary to the weather, means we’re nearly halfway through fall.
Fall is the season after summer and before winter, in case you forgot it existed. Don’t worry if you’re confused, the autumn season can be a very unclear and disorienting time here in Southern California. While the rest of the country anticipates their first dustings of snow, we Angelinos perform bizarre fashion rituals like layering scarves over T-Shirts and generally pretending that it’s thirty degrees colder than it is.
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It’s the time of year we ask the tough questions like “is it fall now?” or “what even is an Autumn?” or “Dear sweet Jesus why is it still ninety degrees in October? When will this endless summer noon cease!?”
It can be difficult to tell when fall actually starts in Los Angeles, though I can definitively tell you it is not September 22nd like the calendar claims. If you’re ever unsure, here are a few tips to help:
Dead Palm Fronds
In some parts of the country, the leaves turn beautiful shades of red, yellow, and vibrant orange before they cover the ground in a gorgeous autumn blanket. Here in Los Angeles, most trees look sort of dead all year round to begin with and skip the “vibrant colors” stage altogether. Don’t worry, Southern California does have one way to make sure you know it’s fall: dead palm fronds.
They’re not colorful at all, they’re just dead, spiny branches that are heavy enough to break a windshield if you happen to get unlucky. If you’re not sure whether it’s autumn, take a quick look at the ground around you. If you don’t immediately see any dead palm fronds on the ground, it’s probably not fall or you might not be in Southern California.
Wearing A Sweater Won’t Result in Death
If you can put a sweater on without immediately succumbing to heat stroke, there’s a good chance it’s fall in SoCal. Is the sweater necessary? Absolutely not. Will you be comfortable wearing a sweater? Not even a little bit. Are you likely to be happy with your choice? Unless you’re spending an extended time in the Trader Joe's freezer aisle, odds are the answer is no.
But the real question is will you actually overheat and perish while wearing a sweater? If the answer is no, there’s a good chance it’s fall.
Pumpkin Spice Everything
In case you’re new around here, pumpkin spice has made its way from pies to lattes and now has a foothold in nearly every product line imaginable. Pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin spice hand soap, pumpkin spice pumpkins. Pumpkin spice has officially gone global.
If you’re ever unsure whether it’s fall in SoCal, walk into your nearest trendy grocery store—the trendier the store, the more accurate reading you’ll get. If you get through the doors and make it more than 6 seconds without seeing a pumpkin spiced something, it’s not fall.
While these methods are tried and true, they must still be exercised with caution. An inexperienced Angelino might mistake SoCal fall for SoCal winter, or forget about second summer or first fall altogether. The seasons in Los Angeles might be less dramatic than in other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean they’re any simpler.
In my expert opinion, we are officially in SoCal autumn. Second summer has come and gone (thank god) and with any luck we’ll avoid Third Summer and be able to enjoy these glorious days in the 70s until winter finally comes in mid-January or late March.