December 11, 2010

So this is Christmas ... in Santa Barbara

Without a doubt, the most shocking thing about travelling from Edmonton to Santa Barbara (journey of nearly 3,000 km) in the middle of December is the change in temperature. A week before we left Edmonton, the city suffered an early cold snap, where temperatures plunged to -30 Celsius/-22 Fahrenheit. This past weekend, Santa Barbarians (really, is it "barbarians?") complained of a cold snap, and the temperatures, at their lowest, reached, 12 degrees Celsius/55 degrees Fahrenheit. Kevin and I were amazed to see the locals out in heavy coast and warm woollens. We had left the house without so much as a jacket. It's amazing what you become used to.

On that day--Santa Barbara's coldest--we decided to head to the Zoo, where the big attraction appeared to be a hillside covered in trucked-in snow so that the local kids could play at sledding and snowball fights. It was cute, really, but we decided to explore the tropical house instead. Snow was not really to our tastes just now.

It's been funny, though, seeing this Spanish-influenced city all decked out for the holidays: Christmas trees, garland and tinsel… It just seems so out of place in what is, to us, practically summer temperatures. Now, I know, I grew up in Arkansas, where we are accustomed to "green" Christmases, but I've been away for a decade now--in ever-more northerly climates--and a "white" Christmas--a bitterly, cold, bone-chillingly white Christmas has become my new norm. But then today, stepping into a bookstores, I saw some Christmas decorations that really did look appropriate to the locale: a big pink, aluminum Christmas tree. Nothing says California Christmas like that, right?

Where should two Canadians go on the coldest day in Santa Barbara but to the beach?

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