The Santa Anas are back. (view of Porter Ranch area)
Oblivious of national news while focusing on a painting for which I missed the submission deadline (don't ask), an e-mail today from my Aunt Lois in Van Nuys caught me by surprise. "...You can add all of us in your prayers..." she said.
Growing up in the Valley, I had little awareness of dangers associated with one of childhood's most beloved seasonal features. Every September like clock work, the Winds would begin. They were warm and velvety gusts on gentle days ~ shuffling the crimson and gold leaves shed from our sweetgum trees into crunchy piles against my bedroom window. More often they were fiercely hot and blew with a tireless, eiree force that seemed otherworldly. It was
fun despite the number of kites it trashed in seconds (until the plastic *"bird" kites came out, boss!) - and superwoman contortions required to keep our skirts from going over our heads on the playground.
One day I chased a scarf whipped from my head for blocks until it soared so high it literally disappeared from view. Day after day, week after week, the Santa Ana toyed with us tiny people and our tiny people things.
When we left home for Arizona on August 21, 1971, Porter Ranch was still a vast and mostly untouched scrub land up in the northern foothills. Movie stars built horse ranches out there during Hollywood's heyday. We had a Regional church picnic there once. It was beautiful, open land dotted with oak and sycamore trees and classic, grass-filled Southern California rock-crested hills. Soon after our departure, development that had infiltrated all of San Fernando Valley finally began to chisel away at Porter Ranch. Too many people building too far up into canyons and hills too heavily wooded to thwart the evil bride of Santa Ana. Fire is hungry, and the 'homeland' is brimming with fodder toasted dry and eager to burn.
The winds are too strong for kites this year.
*Delta style kite we didn't see until the late 1960s.