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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Publisher’s Notebook

• December Envy: Don’t Blame Malibu •

The telephone calls, emails, tweets and smoke signals started to arrive from parts far away and very, very far away as soon as the mainstream media, faced with the usual holiday season news dearth, decided to turn a brief spell of summery weather in Malibu into an international happening and gave rise to a colossal case of December envy in nearly all corners of the northern hemisphere.
As Malibu experienced a warm and dry spell, accompanied fortunately by non-threatening doses of mild Santa Ana winds, instead of the hurricane force blasts that inevitably lead to red flag alerts and the mobilization of firefighting personnel and equipment, the photos of people on the beach in summer attire rubbed salt in the wounds of those shoveling deep snow and scraping solid ice off their windshields.
As soon as I could assure all of the irate relatives recovering from hypothermia and vertebral sprains that a series of ominous Pacific storms was now back in Malibu’s future weather picture, the December envy dissipated, or at least lessened.
Winter is supposed to be a test of one’s hardiness and survival skills was a refrain I often heard when I was growing up. However, one of the hunters in the family was fond of saying that bears are only critters that fully understand what winter is all about.
Somewhere along the way, hardiness became synonymous with out-and-out misery. Still, there has to be something positive that’s derivable from inclemency, otherwise would there be anyone left in parts of the world that experience snow, floods, tornados and other meteorological exuberance? The fact is the same part of the country that occasionally basks in 80-degree sunshine when others are trying to avoid frostbite has its own nemesis or two.
The people in other parts of the country don’t think about December envy when an earthquake sends anything not bolted down into a state of perpetual motion. Most of them talk about the notion of a potential freeway collapse as far worse than their own snowstorms or other winter-weather concerns.
Similarly, the wildfires that once were the domain of the Western states, but now are occurring in areas that never knew them before with comparable frequency, also are seen as a far greater danger than being snowed in for 48 hours or more until the public agency plows arrive to clear the streets.
So Malibu can wait for the rain expected sometime this week, which might last into next, and know that its arrival will make millions of people who have never been to Malibu feel a lot better about where they live. It may even do the same for those Malibuites who secretly wish for snow on the holidays.

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