Summer, Mirages, and Dog Periscopes in Los Angeles

When I hear flip-flops, I always think of summer, and Southern California.  As scary as it sounds, when I was growing up, we didn’t initially have air conditioning.  So it was leave open the front door, leave closed the screen door, and crank open all the windows.  Didn’t help much though.  Hot is hot in California.  Even in Virginia, with the humidity as bad as it is today, isn’t the same as August in California.

I’d walk around the asphalt playground and feel the heat rising off it around my shins and calves.  Then, the city sometimes patched cracks in the street with tar.  When the summer sun hit it, it always smelled like the tar had just been laid down a few minutes ago.  Hot enough to melt.

From the backseat of the car, I’d see the heat rising off the cars on the freeway.  It wasn’t actually visible, but it made the air waver above the cars, sort of like what steam does.  Sometimes the heat would cause mirages, too.  Mostly, I would see them on the road ahead, looking like a layer of water sitting on the surface, until we reached it.  I was reminded of this yesterday when I watched a Smithsonian special on the Titanic.  Think of it as a layer cake.  You take a slice out and you can see these layers.  The layers are the different temperatures of the layers of air.  For Titanic’s area, they layers were cold, and Los Angeles was, of course, hot.

I haven’t seen a mirage since I left Los Angeles.  I hadn’t thought about that until I watched the special.

Summer also turns everything yellow and brown in Los Angeles.  With the draught now, it’s even more so:

Dry brush at the roadside, brown and yellow
I took this back in February. I was a passenger in the car, so someone else was driving.  The fence is to keep falling rocks off the road.


I used to joke that my father never needed to mow the lawn.  He just let it grow tall in the backyard and then die when the summer came.   It was so tall that our min-pin Bubbles had to take a leap with each step to see where she was going.  Snoopy, who was a lot older, wiser, and often cranky, would just forge ahead in the grass, his curling tail poking up like a periscope.  He always knew exactly where he was going, even though he couldn’t see it.

Of course, that yard was great for adventuring for us kids.  When we first moved into the house, I forged through it myself, looking for treasures.  I found this piece of concrete with crystals set into it — crystals was what I called it at the time.  It was some kind of quartz in a yellowish-white.  I also found, curiously, blue beads in the exact shade that was my favorite color.  Maybe one of the reasons I like turquoise is because it was so much the opposite of the colors I grew up with!

From The Daily Prompt

Time for another Odd Trio prompt: write a post about any topic you want, in whatever form or genre, but make sure it features a slice of cake, a pair of flip-flops, and someone old and wise.

6 thoughts on “Summer, Mirages, and Dog Periscopes in Los Angeles

  1. Pagadan August 2, 2014 / 5:50 pm

    When I was a kid we didn’t have AC either, and I can remember how hot it was in the projects in Tampa.


    • Linda Maye Adams August 2, 2014 / 5:52 pm

      Even when I was stationed in Washington, DC years later, it was common to see people with hatchbacks driving around with the trunk open as natural air conditioning. Now everyone has it in their cars.


  2. wscottling August 2, 2014 / 8:48 pm

    I grew up in Central California with no air conditioning, so I know of what you speak. Hot summers were also a thing there too — high desert you know. Now I’ve lived all over the South were if you don’t have air conditioning you may as well just stop moving because it’s too hot to do anything but breathe. Mississippi was the worse. Virginia wasn’t so bad, but Florida was pretty awful. New Mexico (current state) is like living in an oven. I’ve had enough of the heat. I’m heading to Seattle. Give me rain! ^_^


    • Linda Maye Adams August 2, 2014 / 8:49 pm

      Was stationed in the Seattle area for 6 years. You don’t want the rain either. One year, it rained every day in July but the last day. I watched the fireworks on July 4 from under the awning of a building as it poured, and I was soaking wet.


      • wscottling August 2, 2014 / 8:53 pm

        My first husband was at PSNS for about three years, and I lived there after our divorce for another two years in 1999. I’m cool with the rain. ^_^


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