The view from my writing desk today was one of my favorites. Computer in my lap, I sat cross-legged, resting against a gnarled oak tree. Its twisted branches jutted out over my head, shielding me like a brave warrior from the violence of today’s searing sun. Lazy turtles sunned on the lower-lying branches that grazed the water. Red dragonflies flitted around me, while drowsy ducks dozed, their beaks tucked under a wing. I sat, resting, writing, noodling in the heart of the city and in the middle of nowhere, all at once.
When it came time to go, I trudged down the dusty path to the parking area, eyeing the sunning turtles, jealous. I dreaded the return to sizzling hot concrete and melting blacktop. This heatwave has gone on too long, and I’m longing for winter.
When I reached the road, I noticed that the “two-way traffic” signs had been removed. The narrow drive around the reservoir is usually one-way, so I was baffled by the two-lane direction signs I discovered when I arrived at the park. Then I shrugged it off. Two-way versus one-way traffic is hardly cause for alarm in these most alarming times.
But the one-way driving direction seemed restored, so I followed the usual route across the dam and along the winding drive. Just tootling, I admired the venerable oaks overhead, the dappled sunlight on the road, and the stark white snow . . .
SLAMMED ON THE BRAKES. Blinked. Rubbed my eyes. Blinked again.
Checked the temperature on the car dashboard: 95 degrees. In the shade. Rechecked the roadway: Wet from the melting snowbanks.
Heart pounding, I parked the car on the shoulder of the narrow lane while my cranium nearly combusted trying to comprehend this insanity. Snow in LA? Not in all my 40 years here. Snow on a 95-degree day? Never. Has hell frozen over? The searing temps made me wonder. Time to check myself in? Possibly.
But Inner Child just flung open the car door and ran to touch the white stuff. Which was iced-over, thanks to the heat. I managed to find enough loose stuff to make an itty bitty snowball. I flung it to the sky like Mary Tyler Moore tossing her beanie in the opening scene of her show back in the seventies. Google it, kids.
Thinking of a television show fired new synapses, and this realization landed with a thud: filming is back. How did I not get this? Redirected traffic, street signs bearing unknown names, and people wearing out-of-style attire are some of common signs of the many filming projects happening around LA on any given day. Any given day, that is, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down filming.
That’s how accustomed I’ve become to the altered landscape. Filming was once so common, when we lived in downtown LA, that our street name changed almost every weekend. Seven months into the pandemic, and I didn’t recognize the most obvious cues, even as I straddled the ridge between Hollywood and Universal Studios.
Maybe that’s a good thing. Quarantining in this pandemic has freed up a lot of brain cells that I once employed to manage the hubbub of life. I hope we’re clearing the decks for new ideas, the kind we’ll need to navigate in this altered world. Because something tells me that—even after this pandemic is over and the vaccines have been distributed around the world—life will never be exactly the same.
But right now it’s time to frolic. It’s a SNOW DAY, after all.
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