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Burb's Eye View: Preparing for the long winter, SoCal style

November 13, 2013|By Bryan Mahoney

The outside air did that cute thing when it drops 15 degrees just a few seconds after the sun sinks. My wife and I prepared for the worst on our stroll through Toluca Lake — should we wear hats? Maybe fingerless gloves?

This is November, after all.

Three years ago it would have been different. Having just moved here from Boston I wore shorts and T-shirts pretty much through the winter. Now, after daylight savings time, once the darkness descends it's sleeves and socks all the way. Maybe a hat to keep the warmth in.

On a separate night last week I stared at the Coral Café menu looking at the hot dishes, settling on Chili Size, an enigmatically named dish doling out equal heaps of heat and meat. You can get it at just about any Burbank diner and when you do, it centers you like a spicy shield braced firmly against the cold.

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The cold, in this case, barely breached the 60s.

Many northerners I met here like to reminisce about the cold but not revisit it. I'm originally from Buffalo, N.Y. which is so far north that Canada is actually west of it. Our Halloween costumes had to be billowy enough to stuff a winter coat underneath them, and it's sometimes possible you will still have snow in May.

In my first six months of living here it snowed in Burbank. The slushy stuff I'd barely bat an eye at back east dusted Riverside Drive in 2011 as I sipped coffee at Priscilla's, and I had no appreciation for how truly anomalous that was.

This month the city is converting the parking lot behind City Hall into an ice skating rink. The experience will never replace the discovery of a frozen pond in a child's very neighborhood, but it's a good first step toward getting sledding hills up on Stough Canyon. Hey, it could happen.

In the meantime there are plenty of activities in Burbank to keep the winter blahs away.

Take the city's annual community hike, for example. If you've never been up Wildwood Canyon or visited Stough Canyon Nature Center, this is always a great opportunity to see what they're like. It's also held in November — a brisk morning autumn hike can clear the head and get your blood pumping.

There's also something to be said for enjoying the lights and yard displays around the holidays. Here in Burbank they glow free from the obscuring coating of snow that in Buffalo would, in a few days' time, turn into a cold brown-and-gray sludge that invades your boots and socks like the Blob.

I'm happy kicking off some trail dust after a Sunday morning spent bird watching, or cresting that final hill behind Griffith Observatory to see both L.A. and Burbank stretched out before me. I'd rather gain a sweat from sweeping a patio than shoveling snow.

And I could take a couple laps around a temporary ice rink, or I could ride miles around Griffith Park on my bike.

With my coat on. It's winter, after all.

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