My first memory of weather is the fruit frost report.
I’m not sure how old I was, certainly younger than five. It was the early ’60s, in the big living room of Dick and Elizabeth Fleming’s, a grand old farmhouse in the middle of an orange grove in Riverside, in southern California. The Flemings were my father’s first and oldest California friends. We’d go over for dinner, and then Dick and Elizabeth Fleming and Bob and Elizabeth Fleck would play bridge, but everything would stop for the fruit frost report.
I think it was at 6 p.m., and I think it was on KFI 640, the big 50,000-watt AM radio station out of Los Angeles. We’d stop, and Dick would listen carefully to a voice that was very distant and important, and I didn’t fully understand the details, only the importance. Freezing is bad for citrus, but the farmer is armed with tools to fight it off – smudgepots and wind machines. I don’t think we were ever there on the night of an actual freeze, but the quiet importance of the ritual left an impression on my young mind.
I wish my modern self had a chance to sit down with Dick, so he could explain his life in citrus.