When I was a kid, I remember my Gramma driving along Topham Street from our home in Encino allllllll the way to Topanga Plaza, the local mall. The 7 mile drive seemed like an adventure! Topham had small dips that made you sink and then bounce a bit in your seat if Gramma was driving fast enough– and, it ran right alongside a railroad track. Sometimes you would actually see a train, but mostly I would look out the window at the different walls and fences of the backyards just past the tracks.
In the Fall, when the hot Santa Ana winds came, I would look out and watch the tumbleweeds tumbling along the barren railroad tracks and wonder where they ended up. Being in part of the desert known as Los Angeles, I had seen stray tumbleweeds turned into a “snowman” for someones front yard holiday decorations every so often, but where did the rest go? I always wondered about it.
As time marched on, my fascination with tumbleweeds diminished. The train that ran along Topham Street stopped. Years passed and I moved to another part of the city. I married, had munchkins, blah blah blah… and the railroad property has since been turned into a Metrolink bus line. My fascination cannot be taken up by my children since this stretch of land is now blacktop.
Fast forward 25+ years and I’m in the middle of suburbia with my curious boys in the back seat. Topham is a distant memory for me. Driving towards a play date, what do I see??
For those of you who are San Fernando Valley readers, this is Canoga Avenue, just South of Nordhoff where the same train tracks used to run. I pull over, whip out my camera and snap the above pic. My sons ask about it and we spend the next half hour talking about tumbleweeds and that there is a song about tumbleweeds and where do tumbleweeds grow and how do they tumble and on and on…
The same Metrolink link line is taking over this area. Soon. So, this will be the last time I can locally show my children the fun tumbling of the tumbleweeds. I never thought I would look forward to those Santa Ana winds, but I do this season just to relive a fun moment of my life with my boys.