Friday, September 30, 2005


They call it Indian Summer when it gets hot and dry like this. The usual cool breeze from the Bay isn't blowing. Instead, it's a warm wind coming from the inland hills. I love it like this, although it always throws me a little off-balance. I'm an East Coast native. Fall to me always meant crisp air, iron gray skies, a cold wind, the smell of leaves burning and the comfortable hiss of steam radiators kicking on in old brick buildings. It was time to get out the sweaters and the schoolbooks, the new pencils, the clean white paper. Here in California people call it Fire Weather, with good reason. There are several blazes raging in Los Angeles County as I write this. I will never forget the Oakland Hills fire fourteen years ago, when we watched an entire neighborhood go up in extravagant flames right at the end of our street. I remember the scraps of handwritten letters, of book pages, floating down on the fire wind into our yard that day. I bent to pick up what looked like a fragment of a window screen, and it turned to ash in my fingers.

Still, I love this season. Fall has never felt to me like death or like the end of things. Its colors are too rich and vibrant. It's more like a last hurrah. Here, in the seductively balmy afternoon, there is a tree down the street that has already turned. Its leaves glow a brilliant orange in their last furious blush before dropping.

Friday, September 02, 2005

What We Have

Here are Ethan and Henry blissfully frolicking in Hanalei Bay in Kauai last month. It seems like a year ago. It's hard to believe that summer is really over. I was back at work last week teaching, a little glum about the end of summer, feeling sorry for myself in a most unseemly way. Then hurricane Katrina came and all of the terrible aftermath this week - so wretched in so many ways that we cry when we read the paper. And I can’t help thinking about Daniel, this great fourteen-year-old kid - just a year older than Henry - who was in my summer photography class. He was from New Orleans and spending the summer here in California with his aunt. Just a week before the hurricane, we had a great Night Photography field trip for our last class meeting. Daniel said he would e-mail me some of his shots after he got back to New Orleans. He left the next day. Of course I am wondering about him daily, hoping that he and his family are safe. All I have is his e-mail address and no word yet. Just hope. Of course my self-pity has evaporated, my children are safely back at school, and I am once again jolted by the fragility of life, how much everything can change in a split second, how lucky we are to have every lovely mundane day. I'm loving the late summer sunflowers, the leaves just starting to change, the screech of bike tires outside my window, piles of new school papers which need to be signed, soccer and carpools and daily trips to the grocery store and no time to myself. Just living.

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