Ode to Upper Las Virgenes Canyon

On Tuesday, I stood on the ridge.  Wind whipping across her curves and mesas; wind lifting my spirits beyond weight of concerns, or the 4 million busy souls of L.A.

I saw the long view of her horizons; contours of dull and golden-brown hills against gradients of grays, layers of inversion and atmospheric blues.

I focused on the daring pose of a lone, dying tree.

I breathed in dust and sage; it smelled to me like precious incense intended as prayers to the gods.

I imagined, as if I were a child again on the Midwestern prairie; pretending that I was a trail hand, working for Gil Favor, eating beans on a banged-up tin plate. Or hero in Dodge City, not as Kitty, but as a dark and mysterious cowboy riding into town on her (I mean his) bike (I mean horse).

I brought my thinking and gratitude back to where my boots are.

Buffered by the canyon’s earthy shield from a racing 101, I stood and listened for a while to the quiet, more quiet than home. Stillness is spiced by the shy song of a California Towhee’s “cheep”, or slight rustle of wind that makes the brown grasses dance, or my own sigh as I breathe deeply the luxury of these languid moments in open spaces.

The wind. The wind. The wind.

By Friday I hear that the wind is ripping fire across the grass-bearded face of these hills. It knows no boundaries. It casts embers and sparks far beyond itself because it has no regard for its effect; no respect or prejudice for land, or home, or life, or dream. My heart hurts, sinks, flips around in my chest as I hear of the horrific losses of life. And the wind and the fires go on. It is not done yet. Not contained. People try their hardest, but people have to wait for the Santa Ana winds to die down. To wait for the other side of the wind.

The wind. The wind. The wind.

I pray. For the land. For the creatures. And most of all, for the people. And, with an eerie resolve, I know I will walk this canyon again no matter the extent of blackened char or scar of her hills. I will not wait until her growth is new and restored. I will walk when the season takes me there, and I will listen for the lessons she has for me then.

In the wind. From the wind. With the wind.