It's santana season, when hot, dry winds scream down from the desert to scour clean our skies and horizon. Head for higher ground and the Pacific expands around you. There's Santa Monica, clear as a bell, and L.A.'s jagged downtown skyline. Beyond, magnified by a trick of this crazy light, are the mountains.
Cars veer along PCH, drivers fighting the gusts. Birds don't fly so much as they are flung. Their hollow-boned wings brace against the gale, almost useless. Driven by thirst, tongues dangling in the heat, coyotes cross the Pepperdine lawn in search of sprinklers.