Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Funny thing, just a couple of days ago I was watching a severe weather report and thinking about Mark and Eli back there in Springfield, Missouri; and then yesterday afternoon I was watching the smoke billow out in huge clouds over the spot where Ellie and I visited, rather recently, with Carly and his wife, and his Cavalier King Charles from whom he borrows the name by which we know him on this site. (See "When Georgie Met Carly," The Buddha Diaries, Tuesday, May 1,)

Well, not so funny. I was horribly distracted during our artists' group session last night. Carly had emailed me earlier with the assurance that the fire was not affecting them, that it was moving in the other direction; but we could see from our balcony that the winds had turned, and that it must indeed have swept quite close to Carly's house on its way toward the Griffith Park Observatory. The hill that Ellie and I very often used to climb on our frequent morning ascents of Mt. Hollywood was in flames, and we learned from a television interview with L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge that Dante's View had been destroyed.

Dante's View is--was, at this point--a beautiful oasis in the wilderness of Griffith Park, originally planted and tended by one Dante (whose last name I forget, but whom we used to meet up there in the early days, in the 1970s, before his death.) The task of tending the garden was taken over by a charming, twinkle-eyed old seaman, Charlie Turner, who worked it well into his eighties; the trail that leads to Dante's is now named in his memory. And then Tom himself pitched in as chief gardener. We would meet him regularly on the mountain, long before he was elected to the city council--a big, gregarious, people-loving man who seemed to know everyone in Los Angeles and made the daily climb with a football under his arm.

Ah, well, all this is Griffith Park lore. Los Feliz has been our home for more than thirty-five years, and we have dearly loved our views of the park. It is sad indeed to see it so ravaged in the course of an afternoon and an evening. Tom was saying last night, in that interview I mentioned, that a quarter of the park had been destroyed by the fire. Even knowing that this is a part of nature's periodic renewal, we can't help but be distressed. As yet, this morning, I have seen no news. But last night, when Carly told me on the telephone that they were under a mandatory evacuation order from their beautiful and greatly-loved architectural gem of a home, he did add that they were optimistic that the house would be protected. And so far as I know, this morning, that area was saved from the flames by the able and watchful efforts of the fire department.

As for that beautiful grove that we visited with Carly and his wife--and our two dogs--I can't yet be sure that it survived. I hope so. Meantime, though, that "procedure" I mentioned yesterday fades into irrelevance. It was more painful than I expected, and they dosed me up with so much Demarol that after the initial excruciating stabs I must have gone under. I remember nothing until the recovery room, and kind nurses taking good care of me.

(This morning's television update: the fire continues to rage. 600 acres burned, and only 40 percent containment. And another favorite haunt, the Captain's Roost, destroyed by fire. Tom made the national news--but I'm sure he never wanted it this way.)

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