“A landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually.”
~ Claude Monet
Art and weather together! Weather is ever-changing our visual perception of the world. An impressionist painter would equate that with beauty or, at the very least, the unusual but still pleasant. Unfortunately that may not always be the case. Last week’s Weather in the Foothills addressed a dirty subject – China’s air pollution and its effects on our weather and climate. In response, I received the following from a reader in Grover Beach, California: “Pretty sad … I think I like your happier columns better.”
So on this “picture postcard” day in La Crescenta, I write on the same subject – smog. May a much “happier” feeling result!
In the 1500s, Spanish explorers sailed along the California coast. Juan Cabrillo moored his galleon off San Pedro harbor. He described seeing smoke rising from native people’s campfires. As it ascended, it “flattened out” leaving haze in the natural basin. He called the area “the bay of smokes.” When fog rolled in off the Pacific, the air became even worse – smog 500 years ago.
Back to the present, just last week we were in the backyard. A beautiful old stonewall runs along our property line. When it was built is anyone’s guess; it predates our house.
“Bark, bark, bark!” Abby heard something under the ivy overhanging the corner of the wall. Carefully we yanked away the vines and there stood a relic from days gone by … a backyard stone incinerator!
In the early 1900s, homeowners burned trash in backyard incinerators. Daily, plumes of smoke were visible over the foothills. The organic waste became compost or animal feed, primarily for hogs. During WWII, residential trash removal began to recycle materials for the war effort. By 1948, L.A. County created the Air Pollution Control District to target smokestack industries, like factories and mills. Residential incinerators were also considered culprits in the worsening air quality. By 1957, their usage was entirely banned. Moving forward, cars were the main source of pollution. Thanks to strict emission standards, catalytic convertors, new car designs and scientific advances, the skies above Los Angeles are much clearer now.
The Crescenta Valley had its “smoggy days” although fewer than in L.A. Our elevation and location at the base of many canyons allow offshore winds to cleanse the air keeping it beyond good and often pristine. Such is the case today and into next week.
Record high temperatures, possibly reaching 90 degrees, are predicted. A chance for rain was cancelled for next week.
The stone remnants of the past remain under clear skies.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.