Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Rains May Come

What rains may come, we are ready. My husband cleared the gutters- last week the Santa Ana Winds filled them with leaves and ashes. The gray and brown scrap

now tops the heap of
approved waste in the compost bin. There it will all age into the rich crumbly brown compost. Nature will reincarnate it into the ultimate in good nutrition for the garden.

We tested the drains: the water flows quickly. The bird feeders are filled.
Now it is dark: we can rest. The fireplace is lit. Before I pull up the blanket to read I will say a prayer that where the hillsides are bare. the rain will be light. Let mudslide season not follow the rainy season this year. Some people have lost more than enough.

It was just last week, the ten mile wall of flame made a midnight march Diamond Bar. But in my garden, the hummingbirds darted between flower and feeders, like they were sipping from different tables at a wine tasting. The Monarch butterflies floated about underneath the only patch of blue sky in southern California. The roses blushed with blooms. It was so surreal. Was I living in a Salvador Dali painting? No. This is paradise: ultimate beauty on this earth is not synonymous with perfection.

Saturday, soot straddled the stratosphere.

Sunday, the inversion layer shoved the grimy remainders of the hillside’s burnt offering down upon us. A dingy gray coating was smeared upon everything outside. It darkened the normally bright California colors in the image of something out of Charles Dicken’s London. A time when the great city was clothed in drab mourning colors by the dirty coal-fired furnaces in the Industrial Revolution of Victorian England.
The gathering clouds were so heavy with moisture they could not lift their heads up: fog shrouded everything in its chilly embrace. Time to start the clean up.
As I scrubbed and polished and cleaned every flat surfaces on the patio, my thoughts turned to the late Cindy Derr.
Cindy lived a block away. On a particular late autumn day, when our children were students at Chaparral Middle School, I had driven 45 minutes on backroads to my brother and sister-in-laws' home in Riverside, avoiding swaths of fires which were sweeping through fields along the regular route earlier that day.

The boys and I walked into the TV on. OMG- it was our neighborhood- It looked like the TV crew was filming from our front yard. The hillside- Cindy’s house- other homes- were on fire.

But for the Grace of God go I*. Had the wind swept through our little canyon from the other direction, my house would have fallen victim, not hers. Not the other - I think it was- 5 homes.

Kelley-Clarke, Inc, with an office just over the ridge, rushed to the Diamond Bar Jaycees, a generous care package for Cindy and her neighbors. The homeowners all toiled the better part of the next year, piecing their homes, and lives back together. As best they could. Cindy's son saw his pet iguana after the fire. Cindy said it gave him nightmares for a very long time.

After the fire, Cindy wanted everything clean. Which to Cindy meant white. Not eggshell. Not ivory. Purest white was washed over every surface. White walls. White tile. White flooring. The pureness of perfect light reflected back to her eyes meant her home was cured of smoke and soot. It was her comfort.

We lost Cindy much too young. Ovarian Cancer. The second child her parents had to bury. How sad. I don’t think it matters how old your children are if you must bury them. It is the cruelest crime against a parent.

Cindy is in one paradise. I live in this other. In Cindy’s paradise, I like to think she is looking down on us, wearing white and smiling. Knowing, this time of hardship will pass.

Photos of burned areas by Yorba Linda resident Jody Schmalz.

Photo of line of fire by Alta Loma based photographer, Gene Sasse.

The rose is an AARS winner- 'Disneyland'- a floribunda

*John Bradford, Born 1510, Died 1555 at Newgate Prison, London. Reformer and martyr. Famously uttered the phrase while imprisoned in the Tower of London as he watched a criminal on his way to be hanged for crimes.

David Perdue maintains a lively website on all things Dickens at http://charlesdickenspage.com/index.html. Fleet Street Photograph is from the archive.

This marble Greek statue signed ANTIOCHOS is a first century BC copy of Phidias' fifth-century original that stood on the Acropolis. Photogrpaph by Paris, France based photographer Marie-Lan Nguyen.

The Seraphim Angel is part of collection manufactured by Roman, Inc. and can be ordered through //http://www.seraphimuniverse.com/home

All photographs are used with permission. If there is no credit listed, it is from my private collection.


Anonymous said...


I get lost in time while reading your beautifully written blog. I didn't know about the houses that burned in Diamond Bar in your neighborhood. My heart broke as I read about the passing of Cindy.

I, too, cleaned and hosed my patio and all around our house. I was ever so concerned about the water I was "wasting" but I figured it was not a waste as I was washing away the horrible reminder of what our neighborhood endured last weekend. Besides that, we were tracking it into the house!! :(:(

Tonight the rain is pouring down and again I am grateful for the much needed water! Had I waited a little while, Mother Nature would have hosed down for me!:):) I am wondering what our gutters look like up there as John has never gotten up on the roof to check. I will have to ask him about that!

You have been a busy bee Miss Lydia! You have put out many posts in the last week and I have enjoyed them all!!
XOXO Trisha

Lydia said...

Thank you and a Happy Thanksgiving back!
Cindy and her husband moved to Ventura area after their son graduated from high school. The BEAUTIFUL job she and husband, Mike, did in rebuilding is an inspiration to me whenever things seem impossible. I just look at my sideyard and see the hillside healed and the house better than it was before.
The rain sounds so good! Next year the gutters which aren't capped are going to be. Those which were covered were fine- the open troughs were packed with junk.
I do hope the rain is gentle on Yorba Linda.



OldLady Of The Hills said...

You write about this so vividly and with so much heart and understanding.....What a devistating time....And the aftermnath goes on....The Rains, etc.

HAPPY HAPPY THANKSGIVING, in spite of everything kind of falling apart around you!