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Windows on wonder

Posted by on Feb 8th, 2010 and filed under Viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

By Jim CHASE

Due to an ongoing problem with motor vehicles in our family (too many drivers, not enough vehicles) the past couple of months, I’ve had the somewhat regular pleasure of driving my wife to her workplace in La Cañada.
In addition to the opportunity to spend some uninterrupted minutes with each other at the beginning of the work day, my decidedly better half and I have also come to anticipate watching the brilliant colors of the always unique sunrises that appear in front of us each morning. Let me say that, if you haven’t driven east on Foothill between 6:45 and 7 o’clock any morning this winter, you’ve missed seeing some of the most gorgeous, conversation-stopping sunrises on the planet.
Heading down the boulevard, the windshield of my truck frames the arrival of daylight as brush strokes of blue, purple, orange and yellow burn through the mottled gray clouds. Some mornings the sunrise is nearly blinding in its intensity. At other times the cloud cover blends the ever-changing colors into glowing multi-hued layers stacked above the horizon.
More than once I’ve been thankful that traffic on Foothill is almost non-existent at that time of the morning. After all, it’s easy to miss the dull green, red and yellow of traffic signals when such a dazzling natural light display is taking place behind them.
Another of my favorite views of late is the one provided by a large glass skylight smack dab in the middle of the ceiling of our family room. We can sit on the couch in front of our TV and look straight up into the sky. Most days, the skylight frames a large square of bright blue filtered only by a few branches of a stately sycamore that hangs over our roof.
But when it rains – as it has blessedly done quite a bit so far this year – looking up through the skylight is like sitting at the bottom of a pool and watching the surface ripple with drops of water. Being the unabashed “rainiac” that I am, I’d usually rather watch the show going on in the skylight above me than whatever happens to be on the TV in front of me.
Finally (and at the risk of sharing too much information or “TMI” as my kids say while rolling their eyes at the latest embarrassing thing I’ve said), there’s a window above the shower in our second story that has an unobstructed view of the mountains above our neighborhood. I can stand there, shaving or shampooing what’s left of my once abundant hair (you’ll have to trust me on that one) and enjoy an unobstructed view of the foothills.
Over the past several months the view from this particular window has been more extraordinary than ever. I was reminded of this while in the shower one day recently after a particularly cold storm had blown through overnight, leaving a brilliant blanket of glistening white snow on the mountainside. Now, having lived here since the Bronze Age, snow on the foothills of the San Gabriel’s (and even covering my yard) is not all that unusual. Still, the sight never fails to amaze me.
And yet, as I was appreciating the sight of the temporarily white-covered hills, it dawned on me that not four months ago, I had stood in the same spot several days and nights and watched as angry red tongues of flame crawled across the very same hillside, devouring the underbrush and sending pillars of smoke, fire and embers twisting skyward.
What a difference a few months make. From parched blast furnace conditions to monsoon. Fire to snow. It may not be the Rockies or even the High Sierra, but I guess if you know where to look, it’s still a pretty wondrous place we live in.
I’ll see you ‘round town.

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