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Premonition [Jun. 6th, 2017|11:13 pm]
Sitting on the back porch this still and sultry afternoon, looking at the withering flowers, put me in mind of other hot afternoons, sitting alone or with friends in yards or on brown hillsides in the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles, hearing the faint rustling of eucalyptus leaves, watching birds peck at the overripe fruit of peach or apricot or loquat trees, or seeing the ants crawl over the fruits that had already fallen to the dusty ground. The air was usually hazed with smog by afternoon, though toward evening the vagrant breezes would sometimes grow strong and steady enough to begin removing it, and by sunset the mountains might become faintly visible across the valley.

If there were brush fires in the mountains, we could see the red lines of fire appear as they crested a ridge or vanish as the dropped into a canyon, but the fire was always pale compared to the glittering lights of suburbia spread across the valley floor. Life always went on, despite the flames devouring the mountainous brushland, and sometimes houses in the foothills, and despite the almost daily blanket of air pollution that was sometimes so thick that one could see only a mile or two from the hills.

I don't know what it was about today that brought those long-vanished images to mind. There are not fires here yet this year, and the last of the fruit trees in this yard died a few years ago. Maybe it was just he withering flowers. That time has withered, I haven't seen any of those friends who shared that neighborhood in decades, and more than a few of them are dead. I don't recall experiencing frequent melancholy on those days, but now and then it would make a brief intrusion into the general placidity of childhood. Perhaps one of those intrusions was a premonition of today.

[User Picture]From: zyzyly
2017-06-08 06:00 am (UTC)
I have a book that is one of my favorites. It is called Earth Abides, by George Stewart. It was written in the 1940s when he was a professor at Berkeley. It has to do with most of the population dying of the flu, and a small group of people reforming in a neighborhood in the Berkeley hills. By chance, it was the same neighborhood my dad lived in when he went to high school, and he lived next door to the author.

Anyway, there is a scene toward the end of the book, when the protagonist is an old man, and the Oakland hills are on fire. The young people try to get him to move, but he is captivated by these long vanished memories of the past.
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