A muscular prose-poem on Runnymede. A giver of shade. And the hush of tranquility. A private kingdom beneath its drapery, just meters from the honking bustle of the commute. Here before I was born. Hopefully here after I am gone.
Plying the street trade on a sunny afternoon. Immediately outside this frame is a middle-class neighborhood of nice ranch houses, with tidy yards. Four years ago, these women were not here. Section 8 housing vouchers, SSI, EBT cards…plus vacant apartments = ghetto, in miniature, with all its trappings. The people who own the apartment buildings and cheap motels along Sepulveda extract a nice profit in government remittances, but don’t live in the neighborhood they are despoiling. The police, who are very well remunerated and don’t live in the neighborhood, either, do not push the women off the corners during the daytime hours. The Chief of Police, Charlie Beck, lives in Simi Valley, and has a personal driver whisk him to town each day. For how long, do you think, would a hooker stroll be tolerated on the streets of Simi Valley? How about Brentwood? Sherman Oaks?
My associations of cricket are with films set in British boarding schools. Colin Firth and Rupert Everett, argyle sweaters and foppish hair. Here in the Valley it is played avidly, and almost exclusively, by people of Indian and Pakistani lineage. So, in a manner of speaking we can still say the sun never sets on the former British Empire. I confess after watching for an hour I understood the game even less than I thought I did.
There, among the discarded plastic bags, empty beer cans, condom wrappers on the banks of Woodley Creek, nests the Egret, waiting patiently in the rushes for something small and scrumptious to cross its path, to be speared with its beak. Or until a galumphing human stumbles past, disrupting the equipoise of a Sunday afternoon. Then it spreads a five-foot wingspan and glides away. They were nearly extinct in North America a hundred years ago when their plumage was much in demand for ladies hats.
No journey along Raymer Street would be complete without a stop at the salvage works, easily the busiest establishment in the neighborhood. Cars, trucks and shopping carts line up all day, loaded with tradable detritus of this modern world, which gets scooped into cargo containers and hauled to Long Beach, and thence to China. Or, back to China, to be accurate.
For some reason, they don’t take TV’s, which pile up across the street as the day goes on. As well as shopping carts:
Along Raymer Street, the fossilized remnants of a once prodigious ivy patch….now entombed in chain link. One wonders why this was cut. No one inside the fence is trying to see out. No one passing by on the street has any reason to look in. The fresh shoots of new ivy climbing out of a weephole in the asphalt suggest it was unlikely anyone was watering this to begin with. (Ivy is surprisingly hardy and resilient in the arid LA heat) What practical concern or fit of pique put a chainsaw to the roots of this mastodon, this brontosaurus of the scrapyard?