rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Disaster Nostalgia

There are now lots of photos of the wind storm in Southern California, including this set showing uprooted trees and squashed cars in Alhambra, which was only a couple of miles from where I used to live. It is very rare to have this much wind damage so far south of the San Gabriel Mountains. In fact, I don't remember even Sierra Madre or Altadena getting hit this hard. About the only places that ever lost so many big trees were the neighborhoods right below the canyons.

I remember when some of the trees in these photos were planted. I think I was about three or four years old when they started building the golf course where this uprooted eucalyptus grew. It's unusual to see a eucalyptus downed. When the San Gabriel Valley was a citrus-growing area, eucalyptus trees were used as windbreaks to protect the groves, and there are still a few remnants of the long rows of them that once bordered almost all the orchards in the area. They are tough trees, not easily dislodged.

The tree on the golf course was decorative, though. The bus we took to go to downtown Alhambra used to run along the street that tree fell across, and I remember watching all those trees grow from saplings into big shade trees over three decades. I recognized a couple of the street trees in other photos in the set, too. A lot of them were second-generation street trees, having replaced other trees of other species that had grown too large and disrupted the sidewalks, or invaded water or sewer lines.

I also remember the two very old palm trees in this photo. The photo doesn't show their tops, but I'd bet they survived the storm fairly well. Live palm fronds offer little wind resistance, and are both very flexible and pretty firmly attached to the tree. The dead fronds on the ground that the wind ripped free were the trees' skirts, and really ought to have been removed long before the storm. The skirts of dead fronds hanging from palm trees are not only a fire hazard, but one of the favored homes of Southern California's abundant rats. Any street where there are both untrimmed palm trees and utility lines, sooner or later you will see rats running along the wires from tree to tree. That's a Southern California image that never makes it into the tourist brochures.

Gee, I miss Los Angeles. I'm sure glad I don't have any of that mess to clean up, though. It makes my handful of leaves and pine needles seem like nothing.

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