We know it because we feel it. The baby frets. The maid sulks....The heat was surreal. The sky had a yellow cast, the kind of light sometimes called "earthquake weather." My only neighbor would not come out of her house for days....In Los Angeles some teachers do not attempt to conduct formal classes during a Santa Ana, because the children become unmanageable.I'm curious about something. I've lived in Southern California my entire life, and this just doesn't bear any resemblance to anything I know about the place. Santa Ana winds are just....Santa Ana winds. They do whip up brush fires, as Didion says, but otherwise her description seems way, way over the top. Sure, the weather feels a little weird when Santa Anas kick up, but teachers don't cancel classes, pets don't go nuts, people don't stay inside their houses, and Los Angeles doesn't get gripped in crime waves. At least, not as far as I know.
....It is hard for people who have not lived in Los Angeles to realize how radically the Santa Ana figures in the local imagination....Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The winds shows us how close to the edge we are.
So what's the deal here, fellow Southern Californians? Is Didion being overdramatic? Or is the drama really there and I've just been oblivious to it?