Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Picnic Spirit

There’s the Christmas Spirit, the spirit of the game, esprit de corps. We drink spirits. Spirits are both haunting and holy. What about a Picnic Spirit?

Now, have you heard Bob Dylan’s “Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues”? I hadn’t either until an hour ago when I Googled “the picnic spirit.” Queue it up right here:

Stay in m’ kitchen
Have a picnic
Have a picnic in my bathroom

Bathrooms?! Bears?!

…bear with me here.

Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands

This past Tuesday I wrapped up an eight week course on backpacking skills. The first group backpacking trip went into the San Rafael Wilderness on the Cachuma Trail. We saw the Hurricane Deck cliff face; we saw Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island; we saw Hell’s Half Acre. We saw a lot of nature and shared a lot of stories.


I like all that, but isn’t this about picnics?

The backpack leader and her partner made a resolution to have more picnics[1] this year. I pictured a woven basket, checkered ground cover (similar, actually, to the ground cover I was using under my tent), maybe some wine and fruit and cheese, sandwiches, and a stray ant or two.

I just lost all m’ picnic spirit

Guess the Drapers aren’t down with Leave No Trace.

What does make a picnic?

Is it being outside? The checkered ground cover? The basket?

I propose it’s the picnic spirit.

At this level, picnics take on a meditative quality. A sense of soaking in your surroundings. A sense of intention around eating and being present. A bon vivant and sense of play.

I think that is going toward what the picnic spirit is, or could be. It’s like the year round, secular, Christmas spirit!

Great! But will there be cake?

When I came back after the trip, I found out two of my friends began a weekly group picnic at a local park. Which is awesome and inspirational. I know they had drinks—probably wine?—and they will likely have cake, sometime.

If you wanta have a picnic, that’s up t’ you

Truth! It is up to me! And I really am lovin’ the sun setting later[2]! It’s perfect for more hikes, for more patio sitting, and for more picnics. I am totally down for more hikes and picnics.

But don’t tell me about it, I don’t wanta hear it

Oh, Bob Dylan!

Dear reader, I would love to know if you’ve picnicked recently, if you have a fond picnic memory, or if you plan to picnic! Just comment below.



  1. The origin of the term “picnic” comes from a French practice and is not connected to lynching in America.  ↩

  2. The time change (which has an interesting history in America) was eaten up while backpacking where hours of sun are more important than the particular time.  ↩

Santa Anas bring a #WindyWednesday

Another round of Santa Ana Winds is upon us this Wednesday. If you want to stop reading now, totally chill—just know it is going to be a warm, windy Wednesday, and you should make sure all your things outside are secure.

And no worries about your hair today, dear reader. You’re always rockin’ it!

National Weather Service Alerts

  • High Wind Warning for Ventura County mountains, Los Angeles County mountains—including the Santa Monicas, and the Santa Clarita Valley. These will be in effect until 3 p.m. Wednesday. Winds from the northeast will “increase to 25 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.”
  • Red Flag Warning for pretty much all the places. This will be until 6 p.m. and means conditions are ripe for fire (low relative humidity, gusty wind, warm temperatures).
  • Wind Advisory for Ventura County valleys and coast, and the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles coast. This is also until 3 p.m., with the strongest winds between 3 a.m. and noon. “Northeasterly winds will increase to 20 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.”
  • Various marine and water warnings

They also have this fancy image on their Facebook:

Santa Ana Warnings March 2014

To keep up-to-date on all Southern California “Watches, Warnings, and Advisories” go to the National Weather Service’s Southern California Watches, Warnings, and Advisories page. It refreshes automatically.

What is a Santa Ana??!!?! Is this Christmas?!

It is the name of a strong, dry, and usually warm, wind phenomenon in Southern California. It occurs when the deserts and land to the northeast of the Southland[1] are both relatively cold and a high pressure system develops, which makes the cold air sink.

This sinking cold air moves down the mountains between the desert region and Southern California, causing the air to increase in temperature (according to Robert Fovell’s Santa Ana FAQ, dry air warms at almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit per mile of descent). The air picks speed up when traveling through passes and canyons and loses even more moisture as it heats up.

So that explains the strong, dry, warm, wind! Hat tip to Robert Fovell and his Santa Ana FAQ and Santa Ana Winds pages for a breakdown. He also has a page on the Santa Ana Winds etymology. (The name probably comes from a canyon in Orange County called Santa Ana Canyon.)

Here’s a fun picture:

Santa Ana Diagram

  1. Another term for Southern California, more toward Los Angeles and further south than Ventura County. Ventura County is sometimes referred to as part of the Gold Coast or the start of the Central Coast depending on where you are in the county.  ↩