How do you know it’s autumn in LA? The Dodgers are in the playoffs.
You certainly wouldn’t know that the season has changed by the weather – until one day you actually do. While much of the rest of the country has cooled down, summer temperatures extend here into October. There may be a day or two in late September when it seems as if we’ve moved on, but no, there’s sure to be a blast of heat sometime well after the autumn equinox.
But then one day – like two days ago, for example – more than the promise of fall arrives, in this case, in the form of gusty winds. Winds that rattle branches and whip up dust and debris (LA is desert, after all). Winds that put a welcome chill in the air and remind us that it’s time to put sweaters and even jackets in the morning rotation. Winds that are definitely not the warm Santa Anas – noted for their heat and the strange things said to happen when they blow – but the bracing (for here) gusts that tell us that autumn, LA style, is about to settle in. That’s when you know that fall is truly here.
That, and the Dodgers are in the playoffs.
Another sign of fall in LA? The Halloween decorations. In this place where the make-believe industry is the focus of so much for so many, the displays are major productions. Not many happy smiling pumpkin faces here – our fall this year is punctuated by everything from realistic skeletons parading up to the roof to truly terrifying clowns (right out of central casting) holding their victims in cages. Gravediggers compete with hands reaching up from the ground while tombstones dot driveway paths like tulips in the spring. While all of it scares the hell out of me, it’s a sure signal of autumn. That, and the Dodgers are in the playoffs.
Watching the Dodgers in the post-season (as I write this they are 2-2 in the Divisional playoffs against the Giants after a heroic home game last night) is an integral part of fall in this place that gave birth to California girls, Beach Boys, and endless summer. As the team, its pedigree practically synonymous with the game of baseball itself, takes to the field for possibly (but hopefully not) the last game of its post-season, the feeling is bittersweet, one of summertime being over and daylight savings time about to end. But it’s also pure joy, stirring up passions for a more genuine time, a time when the romance of a baseball game was enough.
Playing in the footsteps of Koufax and Drysdale, Gibson and Valenzuela, Reese and, of course, the immortal Robinson, these Dodgers carry on the franchise’s storied legacy while telling their own story. One of down-to-the-wire greatness as the days of summer flit past. One of feeling like a kid again and playing outdoors until dark. One of something special in the air – whether it’s peanuts, popcorn, or that autumn wind blowing in the outfield.
Safe at home.
©2021 Claudia Grossman