August 28th, 2005


Far From the Best Mood

I've never been to New Orleans. Maybe bits of it will come to me over the next few years, dissolved in raindrops. At Catalina, they used to have these glass-bottom boats that allowed tourists to see the fish swimming in the water under the boat. Maybe they can have such boats running up and down Bourbon Street now. Or maybe Katrina will swing wide and smack Houston. One never knows. It is fire season here. The town could burn down tomorrow. This would raise the temperature but slightly.

I used to worry about disasters when I was a kid. I would lie abed at night, sleepless, sniffing the air for scent of fire, listening to the creak of wood that might presage the collapse of the house, aware of every vibration that might indicate the onset of an earthquake or an imminent landslide that would carry me amid wreckage of plaster and shingle and rent floors downward with tumbling furniture into the abandoned quarry behind the house. Then I would go to sleep and wake the next day to the mundane routine which no event ever prevented. Was I relieved, or was I disappointed? To this day I don't know for sure. I was at times a pessimistic child.

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Though it's still a bit too toasty for my liking, the afternoon is at least visually pleasant. There are patches of ghostly clouds that can't decide whether they want to be cirrus or not, and the bright sunlight glitters on the mulberry leaves as they flutter in the soft breeze. The breeze is the best part. Up to a point, the movement of air is relaxing. That's about as much movement as we're likely to get here today. Autumn is apt to bring more invigorating movements of the air, but nothing truly spectacular. I'm trying to imagine wind blowing at 200 MPH. I really can't. I've seen it on television, but it looks like a special effect, and I can't imagine what it would feel like to be in the middle of something like that.

I think the strongest wind I've ever experienced managed something like 60 or 70 MPH, with gusts up into the 80s. Those would be the Santa Anas that blow through Los Angeles in the fall. Below the canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains, they will often fill the streets with debris, mostly from damaged trees, but sometimes with a bit of roofing material or maybe some glass from a shattered streetlamp, or a stop sign that's been detached from its pole. Downed branches or entire trees will sometimes take out the utility lines, or flatten a car. That's about as bad as it gets. Nope, I can't imagine 200 MPH. I guess I'll go watch the special effect on television again.