Paramount, California — Los Angeles, city of dreams, city of angels. Los Angeles, a hop, skip, and a jump from Hollywood, with its movie stars and glittering tinsel, its palm trees and bright lights, and its star-studded sidewalks. Los Angeles and area, with its canyons and blue skies, its critters and creatures, its tumbleweed and brush, desert and forests. Los Angeles…
If you could paint a picture of Los Angeles, what would you paint? An angel? A gorgeous or handsome movie star? The skyline with its majestic, tall buildings, piercing the clouds, defying the smog, and heat? The natural tundra so fragile and rare, yet, so mighty it can somehow survive the flames of Hell itself and spring back slowly, agonizingly, but surely? Los Angeles is all of these and more.
But it’s also a killer. It can be like a mountain lion whose roar paralyzes its victims with fear – but with a roar of flames. It’ can be like a wildcat that swipes and hisses, only its raging green eyes can turn into flames of fire that ignite the tinder dry brush and turn beautiful land into a nightmare from Hell. A nightmare that turns cherished homes into ashes, a nightmare that poisons the air, a nightmare that can kill, trees, plants, wild creatures – and people.
According to the California Department of Forrestry and Fire Protection, CA.gov, Station Fire in Los Angeles County, Administrative Unit: Angeles National Forrest, started August 26 at 3:30 p.m.
I am lucky. The nearest fire was about 14 miles away from me. I experienced it mostly through breathing difficulties, which my asthma medication handled pretty well. When I go outside, I can’t smell the smoke; it just gets a little harder to breathe. Mostly I can’t see any blue sky – just a greyish-white haze. Usually, in the morning or late afternoon, joggers, jog past my patio, or ride their bicycles. But now, I rarely see any, except at night when, hopefully, the air is safer as well as cooler.
On my patio, in front of my screen door, I have a little plant I call The Weeping Tree. I named one of my poems on this site after it. It reminded me of a miniature Weeping Willow because its branches gracefully drooped like those of the Weeping Willow Tree. When I bought it, the tag identified it as a China Doll Plant. I thought it would grow into a bush, but as it grew, it seemed more like a little tree. It was about six inches high when I brought it home. Then it grew to be half the height of the railing. I had to tie it to the railing or it would have flopped over.
Then it grew to the top of the railing – now its about a foot above it. I kept it on my patio and I loved to look at it through my screen door. To me it really did look like a China doll with its voluminous, green, silky leaves. It would grow in little, round puffs that reminded me of an elaborate headress. When the wind blew, it danced and seemed to wave at the joggers while its head would nod gracefully. When the sun shone through it late in the day, there was a green radiance emanating from it.
But the killer breathed its poison on the joyous little tree. When I looked at it I was surprised to see its leaves were falling off. When I touched it, whole branches fell off. I could see ashes clinging to the brittle leaves. I thought perhaps I was seeing it give its last performance. It seemed like it tried to dance its best for the only world it knew.
I was happy when I heard on the news that progress was being made in containing the fires. Los Angeles will grieve for its burned homes, yet some will rebuild in the same spot. Perhaps because they feel they
are a part of the land and that the land is part of them. Some will also mourn for the destruction of its flora and fauna.
Many will pause to pray for, to honor, and to mourn, the dead.
And one shall weep for the Weeping Tree.