California – The Invalid And The Climate

In the case of invalids, it is to be borne in mind that the climate in itself does not cure, but it enables the ailing one who is careful, to take the needful steps in the line of his cure, without the aggravating assaults upon his progress to which the Eastern climate, do what he will, subjects him.

In such an Eastern city as Philadelphia, for instance, or Boston, no man with a weak throat or a disposition to catarrhal troubles, can possibly get through a winter without a certain number of colds. In Southern California, there is no need of his having a single one, if he be careful to wear woolen underclothing, to avoid sitting in the shade, and always to carry an overcoat if he is to be out after sundown. Thus if he has any doctoring to do or any special course of treatment to follow, he can benefit steadily by it without encountering the set-backs of recurring colds which in the climate of the East with its sudden and violent changes, are practically inescapable.

To this passive advantage the California climate offers the positive benefit of an abundance of sunshine, a lower relative humidity than the Atlantic seaboard, and a pronounced equability. Of these three, the greatest of value to the average invalid is the sunshine, an invigorating energy which for many ills is doctor and nurse rolled into one. Even in summer it is to most Californians not enervating but distinctly stimulating, and sunstroke is a word practically without place in the California vocabulary. The special climatic feature of danger is the great difference in temperature between day and night and between sunshine and shadow. People from the East rarely realize this when they first arrive, and are disappointed that they cannot be comfortable in midwinter in alpaca coats and gauze undershirts. We always recommend our friends to bring all their winter outfit (except ulsters) and they find that at one time or another, it is all needed.

The people who complain of the Pacific Coast climate—and there are many such—will, in all probability, be found to have neglected common sense requirements as to clothing. Customarily in a Pasadena winter, for instance, the thermometer stands at from forty to fifty at breakfast-time, rises to seventy or even eighty at midday, and dropping rapidly as the sun nears its setting, is back again in the forties by bed-time. The human system was never framed to meet changes of some thirty degrees Fahrenheit in six or eight hours without some corresponding change in dress, yet one finds some men shivering along on winter nights in summer clothes and no overcoat, and women in gauzy shirt-waists and no hats, and if they do not develop rheumatism or chronic catarrh, it is only because they do. not stay in California long enough.

If one is seeking climate in California there is a considerable choice in the selection of a place of sojourn. Climates vary markedly within a short distance. The air of Pasadena, for instance, charming as it is to most, is not beneficial to all, as the prevalence of the ocean night-fogs which temper the summer climate and contribute largely to the city’s delightfulness as a summer residence, imparts a degree of dampness to the atmosphere which is not best for certain conditions of health. River-side or Redlands with their drier air might prove better for these, but the drier heat of their summers due to the distance from the sea, make summer residence so far inland rather oppressive. Banning, in the San Gorgonio Pass overlooking the desert, has its advocates for diseases of the respiratory system, and the foot-hill towns perched on the rim of the San Gabriel Valley—places like Sierra Madre and Monrovia, connected with Los Angeles by direct electric lines have the advantage, salutary to many conditions, of being well above the ordinary fogs of spring and summer and yet within the cooling influence of the sea. Central California, too, is rich in phases of climate that make it a section to be reckoned with by the health-seeker. The Napa Valley, just north of San Francisco is one of many that have an enviable reputation in this regard. This valley, as the readers of Robert Louis Steven-son’s works will remember, is the scene of his “Silverado Squatters.”

It is, indeed, misleading ever to speak of California’s climate—rather should we speak plurally of its climates, of which there are almost as many varieties as post-offices; and a matter of a few miles will often make an essential difference to the invalid. Cases have been known to be at a standstill in Altadena, for instance, that have improved steadily at Pasadena, five miles away, and vice versa. It is therefore of the greatest importance to health seekers not to make up their minds prior to coming to California, as to the particular locality where they will settle. Individual cases often involve different requirements, and in view of the wide choice to select from, it is wise to look about and experimentally test a number of places before deciding on any.