It was two years ago that I moved into this house. It was November, and the summer that had just ended had been hot and hard with too much death in it. I ran every day or as often as I could in Elysian Park, up the hill off Broadway and around to the lookout where the kids smoke weed in their cars and the men linger and check each other out and I would stand by the railing and stare down over the 5 and the 110 and Figueroa and the arching concrete of the Gold Line and Frogtown and Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park and the old county hospital and the Sears building out on Soto and on a clear day I could see Long Beach to the south and the mountains stretching far to the east. It was dry still, the hills brown, and I remember very well when the rains first came, what a miracle it seemed. Within days the entire park was carpeted in green. The tiniest leaves opening to the sun in the dry mud of the hills, millions and millions of them. The seeds had been there all along, waiting. Two weeks later you would never have guessed that the park had ever been anything other than lush with life.
Last winter the rains barely came and now there are dead trees all over the park. Pines, eucalyptus, oak, standing and leaning and waiting to burn. When it happens, something new will surely grow in the ashes. I won’t be here to see it. I’m moving tomorrow and this morning took one last run up the hill through the park. It’s November again. The rains came over the weekend and now the paths, the hillsides, everything but the asphalt is coated again with tiny budding plants, a skein of stubborn green life over everything. I stopped at the lookout, stretching as an excuse to stare out at the streets and hills below me. It was too early for the potsmoking kids. The traffic rolled by beneath me, the whole city going somewhere, hurrying there. The sky was blue, the air scrubbed clean by the storm.
Running towards home I passed a man with two white dogs. Most mornings we passed each other without a nod, his gaze never lifting from his cell phone as his dogs strolled off ahead of him. A coyote emerged on the ridge. It was tall and looked well-fed, its coat thick and unmatted. It was close, just feet above the road. It stood and calmly stared, watching the two dogs as they trotted off. I turned around and yelled to the man that there was a coyote and he should watch his dogs. He barked “What?” and immediately looked away. I repeated my warning, but he was staring at his phone again. The coyote, barely ten feet away now, didn’t move except to cock its head, regarding me with vague recrimination. I had narced and we both knew it. I kept running, laughing now. I had boxes to pack. So goodbye park. Goodbye green shoots and dead trees and patient brown earth. Goodbye stoners and cruisers. Goodbye coyote and silly white dogs. Goodbye L.A. for now.