Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Suddenly, It's Summer

Unfortunately, my home office has a magnificent view today. Giant clouds like peachy brown cotton candy roil a placid sky and swell like sudden thunderheads. These billows grow to fantastic heights and move so quickly in one direction then another, it’s like watching one of the those fast motion science films from elementary school about how storms form and dissipate. Some of the ridges look like rims of volcano calderas with neat rows of white smoke down slope then sudden leaps of giant flames along the ridge. I look past and above a street lined with hundred foot palms, extending the impression that I’m actually on the Big Island. Instead, I’m watching the Angeles National Forest burn.

Yesterday (a non-furlough Friday) from the Music Building where I work, I could see across the San Gabriel Valley to the smoking hills but even then one could see occasional leaps of flame. Here in Pasadena I’m that much closer and sometimes on a mountain peak I’d swear the flames shoot two hundred feet high. We hit at least 104 degrees yesterday and the Morris fire to the east, not visible from my window, was blowing smoke our way, drizzling ash. Today the air is clearer and the smoke clouds appear to blow west or north so I can see more clearly where the fires are creeping. Just now I spot two orange flame towers on either slope of a ridge and hope they’ll meet and die for lack of fuel but then other ridges below and above suddenly glow.

I’m sad that I’ve never been up Highway 2 on the Angeles Crest Highway to look down on the valley where I live. It seems odd that I could have skipped that ritual but perhaps stranger still that in my three years in the Los Angeles region I’ve only been twice to the beach, both times this summer after I finally decided that I could have a little vacation without leaving town. Until these past few days, I was thoroughly enjoying our unusually cool summer, sitting in my lightly watered garden and enjoying the evening cool. Now I’m raspy from ash and having a little cabin fever wondering when the smoke will clear. I shirked my civic duty plan to attend a pro-universal health care rally this afternoon, too hot, and instead e-mailed my congressman.

Writing this blog I was sorely tempted to draw analogies or formulate metaphors. For example, how like us all to sit in impotent fascination, huddling in air conditioned comfort as California burns before our eyes. But why belabor the obvious?

Until next time, then, I’m dancing on the hot coals of our sudden summer and watching these false and glorious clouds as the sun begins to set.

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