By Leticia Marie Sanchez
On Wednesday evening, vengeful howls whipped through the night air. The city of angels was collectively roused by devilish wails. Tall oaks tumbled into swimming pools. One tree split a shiny silver Mercedes on Huntington Drive in twain. A Pasadena Shell Station crumpled like an accordion. Like cats in heat, the winds shrieked all night, hell-bent until they had achieved satisfaction. They were not gratified until trees blocked roads, the elderly shivered without warmth, and residents time traveled to a a medieval darkness, subsisting on candlelight.
Photo Left: Crushed Gas Station, KTLA
Photo Right: LA Times, Mark Boster
The name of these destructive winds, the Santa Anas, may, in fact, derive from Spanish settlers who called the winds Los Vientos de Satánas, the winds of Satan himself. Allegedly, an Associated Press dispatcher in 1901 mistakenly entered the two-word name of an Orange County city to refer to the Devil’s Breath.
Raymond Chandler and Joan Didion have memorialized the Santa Ana’s proclivity to unsettle. Arborists now explain that Southern California trees are less rooted than their East Coast counterparts, hence their toppling. Apparently, many Los Angeles trees do not receive enough water to endure a battering like the one they received on Wednesday night. Perhaps the rootless trees symbolize the impermanence of some residents who come to Los Angeles chasing dreams, getting off of a bus for a flash of fame and a moment in the sun.
Despite the path of destruction, we should remember the Oaks who stood proudly the morning after the Devil’s Wind. Nor should we forget the children who rake mangled branches from their neighbor’s driveway or the worker toiling unto the wee hours of the night to restore power, limping after he alights from a precarious scaffold.
Let us not forget the trees that are still standing.