Thursday, May 10, 2007

mesa with a view

Driving to the Metro station to pick up AK on Tuesday night, I realized that I live on a hill. It doesn’t seem like a hill because most of the streets immediately surrounding mine are pretty flat, except for a steep drop to the west. So maybe I live on a mesa.

Anyway, I had this realization because, driving north, I had the most spectacular view of the mountains, which were suddenly much more noticeable because they were on fire. I knew this. I’d heard about the Griffith Park fire (a much bigger one than the little flare-up that temporarily threatened my birthday party in late March) on the radio earlier in the day. But here it was in front of me, not just smoke—though there was plenty—but huge horizontal walls of bright orange flames. Bigger than a house or ten houses or anything else that might catch my eye on a hillside.

And, as the sun set, it was apocalyptically beautiful. Is it wrong to find the apocalypse beautiful? Maybe “sublime”—the way Kant (I think) defined it—is a better word: something that prompts thoughts of the infinite and as a result inspires awe (because the infinite is pretty fucking cool) and fear (because the infinite is pretty fucking scary).

I tried to describe it to AK, but describing a huge wall of flames bearing down on your city and the park you’ve just recently come to appreciate doesn’t really work. She had to see it for herself, looking over her shoulder as we drove south.

“I hadn’t seen it before,” she said. “I saw smoke, but nothing like that. I hadn’t seen that.” She paused, a little dumbfounded. “That’s all I can really say. I hadn’t seen it.”

2 comments:

Claire said...

Awe-inspiring is certainly apt.

Cheryl said...

And now Catalina is way too full of awe-inspiring sights. Sigh.