Kage Baker would have said of today: Let’s go driving! The sky is the most exquisite enamel blue, the few clouds are every colour of a Persian cat and just as fluffy. It’s cold and clean and bright and gorgeous; and agonizingly temporary to boot. Which is half the charm, of course.
This is a between-day, an edge day, a driving day. If Kage were with me, Dear Readers, I would be headed up the Grapevine right now, just to see how far we could get before the Highway Patrol sent us back down for not having chains or any sense.
It’s the day between storms here in Los Angeles. It rained yestreday, and it will rain tomorrow; maybe as early as tonight. There’s another one behind it, too; the storm door (A phrase of violent romance that Kage adored) is open wide. They are good old Northern storms, coming down the coast from Washington and Oregon – swift winds, high seas, snow for our parched and parsimonious mountains and good heavy rain the city can’t handle …
Actually, the city of Los Angeles itself does pretty well. Every scrap of earth will hoard this rain and bloom into yet deeper green grass and oats, more wildflowers, taller volunteer trees and tomatoes. It’s the human inhabitants who freak out, especially the ones who were not born here; thousands of people evidently moved to L.A. under the curious impression we had no more weather than a vacuum bottle. The only maps they consulted before arriving were the ones to the Stars’ Homes, I think; they failed to notice that we here in the Los Angeles Basin are essentially a flood plain jammed in between the mountains and the sea.
And we’re at a sub-desert latitude. And we’ve covered far too much of the poor thirsty earth with concrete, and there are far too many people here anyway: and most essentially, we’re a Basin. A big shallow bowl. So when the rains come here, it all floods and washes away. The hills walk, the roads dissolve, the cliffs crumble, the rivers first come back to life and then go on zombie rampages … for the natives and the acclimatized, it’s all rather exciting and invigorating. But the emigres tend to panic.
Sure, it can be disturbing when the cemeteries in the San Fernando Valley wash out and corpses go floating through Northridge – but, hey, that hasn’t happened in over 20 years.
And sure, smooth green hills all over the city suddenly develop long bright slicks of bare earth and bury the streets below: but can that really be said to be a shocker anymore? Heck, in the 1830’s two or three entire towns vanished in the mudslides, and it’s kept it up faithfully ever since – the folks with the hillside houses can hardly claim they didn’t know they had built on a slope. The stilts under their living rooms are a dead giveaway.
And lest I be accused of being heartless – I plead the nonchalance of the native. I grew up here, Dear Readers, on the edge of the only part of the LA River that is a living river (complete with ducks and frogs and floods), under the dancing hillsides of Griffith Park, around local corners from not one but two peripatetic Forest Lawn boneyards … I know how to negotiate this McDonald-wrapper-studded flood basin like a New Yorker knows how to walk on dirty snow.
I shall be fine when the rains come. At least, I will be if some transplanted Midwesterner in an SUV doesn’t ram into me because the gleam of the wet street has spooked her. In the meantime, I think I’ll take a drive.
The nephew won’t be out of class for hours yet,, and I have a full tank of gas. The wind is rising and the sky is shouting with light. And I bet the I-5 is still passable at least as far as Gorman …