Skin-on fatty pork simmered with ginger, soy sauce and rock sugar until the skin is supple and shiny and the meat falls apart. Before my grandmother died, we had this all the time. Now, less. Chinese women of her generation believed that eating a small hunk of pork fat each day was the secret to a long life. Chinese women of my mother’s generation believe in eating as little meat as possible, and fill in the gaps with French pastries. Go figure. Guess which view I have more sympathy for.
Can that possibly be rain? In Los Angeles? In October?
Around this time every year, the mountains circling my suburb catch fire. Our October rain is ash and ember. There’s a patch of white pines north and west of here that has not, for many years, lost its blackness, its burn. In 2008 a fire that started in the Santa Susana Mountains burned south and west until it blackened the tennis courts across the street from my parents’ house, where it stopped.
More than heat or wind or drought or earthquakes, fire is what I think about when I think about California. But today it’s raining, and this morning I lit a fire of my own with false wood, and from my greenhouse of an office I can look out and behold a likeness of winter.