The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Santa Ana winds can make you feel flakey

Well, my sinuses have slammed shut, my lips are cracking, my contact lenses itch and I’m having a regular sneeze-fest. How about you?
If anyone ever needs any verification of the arrival of a Santa Ana wind, just give me a holler. My nose always knows.
I know we can usually rely on a plume of smoke from Camp Pendleton as one solid sign. At least, we always hope it’s on the base, where they have lots of bodies to combat it. If it’s not there, then I want it to be at my house — my clothes closet specifically.
“I can’t imagine, Fire Marshall! It seems to have been a single spark that just jumped right into the middle of all my old, crummy clothes and shoes that I am sick of. Quite a surprise to me, too. Excuse me, I have to go call my insurance company and go shopping.”
The final proof lies out to sea, as the winds push the smog into a horizon of brown air reminding us that we really need to find alternative fuels. It is always gorgeous at sunset when it turns red, but the words of my old biology professor always ring in my ears. “Those pretty red sunsets just mean scurvy air!”
Meanwhile, I hear the wind howl through the eaves and I can just feel it suck all the negative ions right out of the air. In the contrary way of nature, negative ions are supposed to make you feel good. That’s why our normal sky full of salty, negative-ion-filled ocean air keeps us so darned cheerful. Positive ions, which Santa Ana winds must be full of, make you suddenly understand road rage.
Living in sunny Southern California, we are bound to be happy more than the national norm. I imagine the Santa Ana conditions might be a karmic antidote to all that outrageous good health, outdoor activity and absence of snow tires.
In Southern California in the autumn, these winds finally give you a perfectly good excuse to feel angst. You can revel in a fit of extreme Weltschmertz. You can get out of things you don’t want to do by pleading severe ennui due to unfriendly ions. You can take to your bed with a headache and have both legend and science to back it up.
Besides, there are those of us who look forward to the occasional bad mood. We relish a valid excuse to snap at everyone for no good reason. It vents our spleens. I’d like to say it clears our heads, but that is the one thing the Santa Ana wind does not do. It tends, rather, to interrupt our ability to breath, which makes us even crankier.
All that can be offered, while they blow through, is caution with any flame, heavy-duty lip balm and the knowledge that it usually cools down in a few days. That gives me just enough time to prepare my apologies.