Head high enough (and deep enough) into the hills and you can escape the sounds on the ground, the cars and voices and chain saws and leaf blowers and talk radio and and and. It's what's above, though, a constant in LA, jets and planes and helicopters and now drones, that robs you of the chance of even an instant without man-made sound.
But this morning, in the flats of Solstice Canyon, a miracle. The trails, the hills and even the sky, all still, and the silence, you could feel it on your skin.
With our most recent living Christmas tree safely planted up at the barn last spring, it was time to find a new candidate to do holiday duty. We always go to Treeland in Woodland Hills, where the selection includes my favorite, Pinus radiata, better known as the Monterey pine.
It's a California central coast native that thrives in the sea breezes. Each January, after the lights and decorations come off, it gets transplanted into a roomier pot. Then it spends the year in a sheltered, semi-shady corner of the garden, hand-watered and, when luck is with us, rained upon.
Last year's tree had served for three Christmas seasons. It was so tall by the third year (a little more than nine feet) that we had to use a ladder reach the top. This year's tree, at just seven feet, feels small by comparison. But it will be beautiful when it comes inside next week and the Christmas things go on and a bit of wilderness transforms the house in these final days of the year.