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Valley Sky

Last Updated on December 1, 2022

Brush fires overtake a hill on the outskirts of North Hollywood.
Brush fires overtake a hill on the outskirts of North Hollywood.

As I hump over the Sepulveda Pass each morning on my way from the South Bay to the Valley, I marvel at the instantaneous change in climate, as if some giant paw has flicked an electrical switch from “foggy” to “muggy.” The sun cuts through the gloom as if on fast-forward in some National Geographic documentary. But it’s all real, in real time. That’s the miracle of the LA basin’s micro-climates.

From the patio of my office building, several of us looked on as the sky grew ominously gray, and I found myself hoping an East Coast storm was brewing. The palm fronds rustled just a few feet below us, as I noticed the incongruous reflection of pale blue skies painted in the glass windows of the office building opposite. We never saw that storm, although a co-worker swore he could see the raindrops falling several miles away.

Sunny skies reflected in a mirrored building, behind which lie dark storm clouds.
Sunny skies reflect in the windows of a building being snuck up on by storm clouds.

A few days later, I thought we might finally be blessed with a true downpour. The sky was ashen, and I recalled the OC fires from several years back that left half an inch of cinder blanketing my car. Sure enough, a friend pointed out the columns of smoke billowing from the Hollywood Hills, where a line of flames rushed towards the far side of the ridge, not terribly far from the notorious Hollywood sign. But, being jaded Angelenos, we shrugged our shoulders and ducked back inside to our cubes. Yes, we’re glad the sign remains intact, but it might have been more dramatic to watch a cultural icon go up in blazes as we watched live — on streaming video, of course.

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