Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil

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Monday Writing Prompt

bronson trail respite.PNG

This picture was taken early last year at Bronson Canyon, a trail I usually hike with my dog Baxter. The shot was taken before the effects of the Los Angeles drought took hold. About four months later, in August of 2015, I took an (almost) mirror photo of this area, and the long blades of thick green grass had turned brown. The rolling lush hill was overgrown with dead branches. The depth of distance overturned to summer overgrowth despite the lack of moisture.


Very sad. Perhaps the latest El Nino rains have allowed this area to return to green. I haven’t been back since the “brown” photo was taken.

The hillside respite was off the beaten track from a trail where hikers were trailing and talking about their lives in great volume. Loud. Self absorbed, as we all tend to be –  perhaps some more than others –  in this Hollywood life.

In this space,  hawks fly overhead, cutting dark against the bluest skies you can image. I’ll give California it’s due. It does sky like no body else. Daytime blueness, deep with heavily wisps of clouds intermingle with curious chem trails. Night, dark blue with the largest moon I’ve ever seen sitting quietly among twinkling stars beyond atmosphere disturbance.

No wonder Woody Guthrie once described California stars and how they “hang like grapes”.

In some canyon enclaves, there is so much silence, your ears feel like there are sucked in by the pressure of it. Until the sound of a voice speaking about how their job at the hair salon sucks because someone keeps stealing their product cuts through the meditative peace.

So, that day, I left the trails that lead to the Hollywood sign, and the girls in perfectly fitting yoga attire, and shirtless men and joggers huffing behind and beyond me, and found myself in this private nook on a hill…

…across a deep trench carved out by a running stream that had long dried out.

…beyond dried brambles and  bracken padded down by ghost hiker’s feet restless to leave the conventional path.

…up the steep and grassy hill near a tree with a view of what looks like wallpaper for a Microsoft OS program.

Just me and my dog, leaving the noise of people chatting about their small problems, about themselves, about me, me, and look what this person did to me.

This area of grass and beauty, that turned brown and likely green again, is my only hope. The rest is all fluff. I’d take a snowstorm any day if I could wake up on a Chelsea NYC morning and call it my home again.

As Bob Dylan once said, “I’m going back to New York City, I do believe I’ve had enough.”

What does this photo inspire in you? Have a look. What does it provoke? Dream a little. What writing can you create from this image?

Write, write, write away. Give Monday something to brag about.


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A Little Patch of Heaven

Beechwood Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

Beechwood Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

Yesterday’s holiday gave me pause. Off the merry go round of everyday routine, I  took the hound and headed for the hiking trails of Beechwood Canyon. It’s our usual familiar stomping ground. Part of the expanse of Griffith Park, its trails snake up the steep slopes of the Hollywood Hills that reach close to the Hollywood sign. You often run into tourists asking how they can get to the sign. It’s unclear what people expect when they get here. Various photographs rife with photo shop imagery  allowed the world to believe the Hollywood sign is a place were you can go and have brunch under the “L”, or lean against the “W” while looking out at the LA vista stretching toward the sparking ocean on the horizon.  When I come upon these hopeful travelers longing to be near this famous iconic landmark, I have to break the news. You really can’t get to the sign unless you are met head on with angry locals who want you to stop clogging their streets with your car rentals.

Hollywood has molded the image of itself and its very essence is in the letters of that iconic sign. I can see it from my street. It’s the new Empire State Building in my makeshift Los Angeles world. When one comes here, they believe touching the Hollywood sign is like touching fame and fortune. Yet, fame comes at a cost. Whether you sell your soul to live by the Hollywood dream, or whether your car veered off a sharp turn and tumbled into a ravine – it comes at a cost.

While on our hike, we continued up our trail, now filled with chatty hikers and skateboarders heading for the concrete hills where they congregate, I saw a big dip in the ground, likely the hard worn pathway of a dried up stream. It was steep, dug in rocky and dangerous gaps between the trail and this lush beautiful area across the way. The green hill was filled with peace and quiet, with a yellow butterfly dancing from blade of grass to tree branch. It looked like heaven.

The big dip was a bit perilous, yet as we moved along, it took different heights. When I found a part of the dip that seemed okay to walk down and over – we crossed over to this quiet patch of thick, naturally growing grass. It was pristine.  Well almost. There were lonely sprawls of beaten walkways worn down to dirt, snaking up into the dark shadows of incline that went to nowhere. They were remnants of footsteps lead by hikers who “took the road less traveled.” The grass itself had been trodden into flat walkways leading up hill to a few boulders, marked with graffiti on their surface, flat enough to sit on. They were likely used for nighttime bullshit by some really crappy graffiti artists. (As opposed to good graffiti artists.)

We made our way up this grassy hill to a zen like garden of small trees. And there we sat. Away from the fray. Situated in a lush zen. Baxter was munching long strands of grass as if he were a cow. Me, feeling like I found a little piece of something I left behind before I came into this world.

Going off the beaten path, separating yourself from the chatty fray of hikers – you take the chance on a greener patch of grass. And you do find a bit of heaven.