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Know the West

The mega-phenomenon of Los Angeles

 

I found Lynell George’s piece “No Trick of Light” (May 2020) profoundly moving. As an expatriate Californian living in Colorado, I was stirred by her references to a certain play of light, the peculiar sound of wind among native and non-native trees, the cooing of doves, and the ever-changing topography of desert and hills going down to the sea. Settling in the San Francisco Bay area as a young adult, I would take jaunts to Los Angeles, never fully understanding the geography until later years. It’s such a mega-phenomenon, sprawled across ranges and valleys, with a panoply of communities scattered up canyon or down coast, all blending together and still somehow unique. That Los Angeles is a city of great cultural significance in all its legendary opulence and sometime squalor is not to be disputed, a place as unique and full of promise and peril as just about any place else in the world. But the sense of place, and the capacity to find the natural in a city mishmash inflicted on the land by questing and grasping humanity, is what came through for me in reading this loving and questioning essay. If you think about it, all the pretty places are dangerous. But if you let yourself open up, you can find what is special and to be treasured wherever you are. Thank you for reminding me to be open to the natural splendor that can be found around me, even in the midst of the most urban of locations.

Ed Behan
Fort Collins, Colorado