Friday, January 28, 2011

Hilltop Life


"Solid life has a capillary connection with the air," says J. "You can burn it, but it won't die."

He speaks metaphorically, of course. Many living things died in the Station Fire a year and a half ago. But you can't defeat life itself. Thus the new growth in the lower part of the photo.

I took the shot a few yards above The Meadows, a hilltop neighborhood in Altadena. You have to be dedicated to live in The Meadows. Every time there's a brush fire or a heavy rain, you get evacuated. The fire came so close to those homes I could have thrown a baseball from a back yard into the flames--and I've got a sissy throw.

But the mountains are at your doorstep. The trail head is in the middle of your block. The trails are beautiful and the temptation is great. People get up there, fall in love with the life, get their capillary connection to the air and neither flood nor fire will move them off that hill.

19 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

It amazes me, Petrea ~ such a deep connection to a place that neither fire nor flood nor a plague of locusts severs, though it may sometimes fray it. We see it here, too. It's beautiful to see the regeneration in your photo.

Jayne said...

It is inspiring, isn't it? I love the optimism here. This gets to the root of the enormity of nature, its resistance and persistence, its purity and completeness. Beautiful.

Katie said...

Beautiful and hopeful photo. I can see the appeal of living in this area, although reading in your link about "sightings of bobcat, mountain lion and bear (especially on trash nights)" might give me pause.

Steven said...

They are hearty souls indeed. They roll with the punches and never give up. Good for them. That is a beautiful blue sky.

Steve Scauzillo said...

I don't know how people can do it...live in foothills near "fire country." I love the shot of the blackened trees against the blue sky. Reminds me of my visit to El Prieto Canyon last year.

Petrea said...

The trail head to El Prieto Canyon is in this neighborhood.

We almost bought in this neighborhood. We loved it. It didn't work out, and for us I think it was for the best. I don't know if it's true now but at the time you couldn't buy regular fire insurance; you had to get a state-backed policy.

The animals wouldn't worry me. You learn how to deal with them peacefully. And Like the animals, people learn to live with these things, though I don't know if I could handle the financial constraints.

Welcome, Jayne. Welcome all, of course! But Jayne's new, and what a thoughtful comment.

Dianne Patrizzi said...

Isn't it ironic that machines called Bobcats, small shovel loader vehicles, could be used to remove the sediment with low impact to the delicate habitat. It would just take a bit more time, and patience on the LA DWP's part but it's worth it.

Zak said...

I live up in The Meadows. It's really a wonderful place. Escrow closed on our house the day after the Station Fire started. We were scheduled to move in on the first day of mandatory evacuation... :O

It's a high-risk area it's true. Part of me feels like it should never have been built. It would've been a wonderful place if it were still in it's natural state.

That said I love to live there. The little drive through the woods on the way home always puts a smile on my face.

It's great to be able to walk my dogs on the trails and not have to drive anywhere first!

I'm really looking forward to the day when the rest of the Forest opens up again. There's a lot I want to explore.

One of my favorite things about the aftermath of the fire is the Oaks. Trees that looked like they were completely burned are growing back. It almost looks like they're infested with mistletoe... but nope. It's new growth from within these great surviors.

Petrea said...

Dianne, it's been a year and a half since the Station Fire. I don't think time and patience are the County's problem. I think the problem is laziness. The option you mention might be viable but they haven't even bothered to investigate it.

Zak, it's nice to hear from you. Welcome. Sometimes, people from neighborhoods like yours complain when they have to evacuate, or when officials don't run to their rescue quickly enough. That's when we flatlanders say, "That's what you get when you live at the edges." People in the Meadows seem to be clear on the choice they've made. As you say, you're aware it's a high risk area. But you've weighed the pros and cons and made your decision.

And you have amazing timing, don't you think?

Zak said...

@Petrea Yeah living with nature means living with a certain level of uncertainty. That's good and bad.

When the station fire was burining we tried to look at the situation positively. "Hey, if your house is going to burn down what better time then before you've moved all your stuff in?" or "Hey we didn't like the layout anyway, we could use some more square-footage." or "Well, if the house survives that's it for a lot of the fuel. We'll be safe for another 30 years." and so on.

Of course it would've been a tragedy if it had burned but that's the kinda thing that keeps your spirits up in a time like that...

Here's some video that I shot during the fire:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHi5UkX0F-k

Thank you again Firefighters. :)

Bellis said...

I'm excited to learn (from your link) that there was once an Indian acorn collecting camp up there.

Right now, Hahamongna is flooded more than I've ever seen it, especially on the west side - the dam gates have been shut for many days. Any small animals living there will have drowned by now (unless they swam out). The water level needs to be high so trash and dead trees can be removed, but I'm sad that areas that have never before been underwater now are.

Petrea said...

That video is wild, Zac. At first you think, "hey, that's not much of a fire," then you see it. It was something else. And soooo close.

Bellis, people tell me that in the spring of 2005 (just before I moved here) the water came up nearly to the top of the dam. So it's been higher than it is now. I got a good shot of Hahamongna from above The Meadows. Maybe I'll post it tomorrow.

Petrea said...

Woops. Zak, not Zac.

Susan Campisi said...

Wow! Zak's story is incredible. It's all about perspective, isn't it, and making the best of things outside of our control. Zak, glad your house survived and you're enjoying the area.

On another note, a lot of things should *not* be out of our control, like L.A. County's plans for Hahamongna.

J+P said...

Glad to hear from a Meadows resident! You folks are braver than we were.—Petrea's hubbin

Ms M said...

It is amazing and uplifting to see even the tiniest new growth when a place has been devastated by fire or flood or other disaster.

Virginia said...

Hope. You nailed it.
V

Dina said...

It's like you are telling the story of my village on a hill, also surrounded by forest. But I like the way YOU articulate it.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Dina. See, that just tells me you are who I think you are.