In 2019, I decided to make a video essay documenting the changing seasons in Los Angeles.
The film begins, as the year does, in winter. In this case, it’s winter in the San Gabriel Mountains that divide the chaparral of the Los Angeles Basin from the desert of the Antelope Valley. Next we’re in the Antelope Valley, stopping briefly at the small settlement of Valerymo.
A rainbow heralds the arrival of spring. In the Santa Monica Mountains and the Sierra Pelonas, early bloomers begin to flower. After another brief interlude, this time Downtown underneath a flowering pink lapacho, it’s back to the Antelope Valley for a magnificent orange explosion of California poppies and other spring flowers and flowering Joshua Trees.
Waiting for the Metro C Line provides a view of Downtown and the mountains beyond through the curving concrete ribbons of the beautiful and terrible Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange in South Los Angeles. What follows is a view of the South Bay under gloomy late spring skies as seen from the end of a pier.
Insects and overhead power lines hum and buzz in accord under the scorching summer sun from. The setting is the Puente Hills that separate the suburban San Gabriel Valley from suburban Southeast Los Angeles.
One of Mideast Los Angeles‘s many stair-streets provides an interlude before a visit to the sunny, rocky shores beneath Palos Verdes Peninsula. In the distance are Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands — the two Channel Islands within Los Angeles County.
Night finally falls over MacArthur Park.
My sister’s cat, Iwashi, observes a crow flying from a eucalyptus.
Back in the Santa Monica mountains, much of the lush greenery has turned a brittle gold. A rattlesnake rests underneath a sacred datura vine. A mouse hides in the dry undergrowth. A cottontail keeps an eye on me, as does a Nuttall’s woodpecker.
Newly hatched ducklings swim in the Silver Lake Reservoir.
Back, once again, in Silver Lake, an agave sends up a towering quiote, which we give birth to more agaves but bring about its death.
Autumn comes to Mount Wilson …and Topanga. Tree trunks creek and bang in a valley. Waterfalls continue to fall even in the long dry season. Above the San Fernando Valley, the leaves of a stand of California black walnuts turn golden.
Clouds gather in the San Gabriel Mountains, as seen from Silver Lake. Winter returns, once again. Snow falls on the mountains. The seasonal cycle continues to turn.