October 29th, 2003

caillebotte_man at his window

Two Things

First, the end of daylight saving time. The memory which always comes to mind at this time of year is the autumn I commuted to Pasadena by bus. The first weeks, before the clocks were turned back, I remember waiting in darkness for the first bus, the few early commuters passing by with their headlights on. By the time we reached the corner where I transferred to the Pasadena bus, the morning would have turned gray, and would brighten only slightly as we drove through the leafy suburban streets and along the fashionable commercial strip of Lake Avenue. Then I would walk a half mile east along Green Street, as the sun began to poke itself above the horizon. At first, I found the trip annoying, particularly since I hated getting up so early, and I had seldom had more than five or six hours of sleep the night before. But I soon came to enjoy the unaccustomed experience of seeing the city waking around me. Later, there were some mornings of splendid fog, when the bus would seem as though it were lost in its own little world, passing through fragments of neighborhoods which would appear and vanish, barely seen. And there were days of rain, when I would spend an extra fifteen cents to ride a local Pasadena bus the last half mile, to avoid getting soaked. But the best mornings were those before the clocks were set back, when I began the day with a handful of pale stars still shining above me.

The second thing is the brush fires. The house we moved to when I was six had a view across the San Gabriel Valley, and when there were fires in the mountains above Pasadena, we could see the red lines crawling up and down the rumpled landscape ten miles distant. I was always impressed. But the most spectacular season of fires I remember came just a few years before I left Los Angeles. By that time, I lived on the valley floor and had lost the view, but one year the fires were so intense that for several days, the sky was a roiling mass of smoke which turned the sun so dim that it could be looked at directly, and by night, the ashy firmament nearest the mountains would glow lurid red with the reflected light of the fires which had produced that dark ceiling, which could be clearly seen over the entire brightly lit city. It was a sight both splendid and unnerving, and I have long thought that this must be how the sky looked to the doomed onlookers at the eruptions of Vesuvius and Krakatoa and Thera. As often as I have seen fires here in Butte County, I have never seen any as spectacular and disturbing in their effect as those I remember from Los Angeles. The memory almost makes me regret that I'm not there to see those they are having now.
caillebotte_the orangerie

Still More Stuff

I've heard that the aurora was visible from central California last night. I didn't see it. Drat! Maybe it will be back tonight. At least it's a bit cooler today, and pleasantly breezy. I raked another huge pile of leaves, then filtered it for acorns which I tossed back onto the lawn. By the time I was done, the wind had brought down more leaves. That will be going on for the next month or so. I'd let the leaves lie, but that would kill the lawn. I'd let the lawn die, but my parents would be annoyed. I'm trapped by vegetation!

The cat is feeling better. She became frisky this afternoon, stealing my pencil and batting it under the couch. I could buy her any number of cat toys and she would still prefer my pencils, my bottle opener, my shoe laces, and my toes as her playthings. Kitties are easily entertained.

There was something else, but I've forgotten it. I'm distracted by all those chattering birds in the tree outside my window, and the smell of tar drifting from the next street, which is being sealed. I think my brain wants to go somewhere else, and doesn't care if I go along or not. I'll give it a rest, and see what happens. Perhaps it will be a Cranial Mass Ejection.