Your Feet Did Not Swell In Los Angeles

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Los Angeles has many faces. Her demeanor is usually warm, hazy, smoggy, and dry. The colors… greenish brown desert, plus a scattering of different kinds of palm trees. Add wrinkles: a network of 10 lane freeways, filled with trucks, cars, and traffic jams.

Irving Berlin touched on what’s missing in the lyrics he wrote for the introduction to “White Christmas” in 1942: “The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway. There’s never been such a day, in Beverly Hills, L.A. But it’s December the twenty-fourth… And I am longing to be up north. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas….” etc.

Los Angeles weather

Perfect weather for a ride on the Xootr Mg scooter.
Perfect weather for a ride on the Xootr Mg scooter.

There are many Los Angeles days where I long for snow, or freezing rain that falls horizontally in driving wind, or bitterly cold days. Or just rain, rain, and more rain. Normally, that’s not the way it is. L.A. weather is usually cloudless blue skies, faint smog haze in the air, and monotonously comfortable shirtsleeve temperatures.

This week, we had rain for two days. When I went for a ride on my Xootr scooter, the day after the rain stopped, I chose one of my favorite trails, the San Gabriel River Trail north from Lario Park, in Irwindale, east of Pasadena.

On this day, for much of the ride, I was able to see snow-covered peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains just north of the low hills flanking the trail. The sky was cloudless. The temperature perfect even for a mid afternoon ride. Los Angeles showed me her most enchanting face.

Meeting William

This is William.
This is William.

As I left the trailhead at the end of my ride, a homeless guy waved hello to me from his bench seat, and asked about the scooter, was it motorized, or foot powered? Foot powered, I said, and that I’d just ridden up to Mountain Laurel Road. Five and a half miles round trip.

He asked how old I was. Eighty, I said. He said he thought I looked great, and that he was seventy, his name was William, and that he comes to the trailhead twice a week to spread the word of God.

William said I should read Deuteronomy 8:4. I did, right after I got home. “Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.” What this means, I think, is that each day is a gift from God, who takes care of us all, and appears to have taken care of me so I can do these rides even at age eighty, and for which I am deeply, profoundly grateful.

William will look out for me too, when our paths cross next time. And I will look out for him as best as I can.

Don’t forget to check out my website at

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Jonathan Kelley
Jonathan Kelley, 80, was born in Boston, and educated at Exeter and Princeton, then Harvard Medical School, after a year teaching English in Cali, Colombia. He was a Navy anesthesiologist during Viet Nam. He spent the middle decades of his life working in a community hospital in Northern California. Besides his career in medicine, he’s a chef, pianist, and actor in his artistic life. In the kitchen, he specializes in croissants and cooking with coconuts. At the piano, it’s boogie woogie and Joplin rags. As an actor, he’s done fourteen seasons in a Mexican Christmas play in Los Angeles, plus the occasional movie role, as in the soon-to-be-released feature film “Amor en 266 Millas,” where he plays the hippie patriarch of a desert commune in the Antelope Valley. He has two books available on Amazon, “Counting Backwards from 100: My Life as an Anesthesiologist,” and “Short Stories by Jonathan Kelley.” Searching for improved balance and leg strength at age 77, Jonathan came by chance upon a Xootr scooter. Jonathan’s wife is the lovely Puerto Rican actress Gloria Laino. Their mix is like Puerto Rican arroz con gandules served next to New England style cranberry sauce.

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