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Flames of Autumn

26 Oct

In November 1997 I saw snow fall for the first time. The tiny, white flakes came gliding toward our windshield as we drove through a mountain pass toward our final destination of Seattle. The back end of my husband’s beloved green muscle car loosened in the turns. The 30-year-old heater, inadequate to fight my first experience with real cold. My life of six lane freeways was suddenly reduced to a one lane highway. So many trees and darkness. I was frightened by the warp-drive illusion of driving through the falling snow.

Flakes of snow. Flakes of ash. They are not so different in their behavior. Each one unique in composition, carried on a wind current, slowly dancing its way to the ground. Neither one less beautiful in its wind dance. Under the right circumstances we can be terrified by both.

When you grow up in the chaparral of Southern California, fire is a given. The brush fire burning in the canyon is a way of life. Early autumn sends out her messengers to swap colors of leaves. She fights with summer, a season of excess in a land that shivers when the temperature drops below 70 degrees. Those of us who live here, know that the winter sweatshirts we pull on in late September, will once again be replaced by tank tops, some time before Halloween.

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