San Francisco

Powerful Strides at Ocean Beach

Overlooking Ocean Beach, San Francisco

A pair of athletic girls in their late teens came running from behind and easily surpassed the old woman as she walked up the sandy hill. For the girls, there was no struggle. They raced each other as they sprinted up the hill, reveling in, yet blissfully unaware of their youth. Meanwhile, the old woman had to pause often to take deep breaths and work up the strength for few more steps. Slowly, steadily, she reached the top of the hill.

Both journeys up the short hill held their own beauty. One innocent and ephemeral, the other labored and paced, both beautiful, strong, and determined.


Surfing in the City

Surfers at Fort Point, San Francisco

As a cargo ship passes underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, its orange red hue temporarily blends in with International Orange. A sailboat decorated with America’s Cup paraphernalia heeds to the ship, carefully avoiding the larger vehicle’s path as it steers toward the wider ocean. Alcatraz and the city skyline are distinct against the clear sky and azure waves tumble in and crash against the rocks that lead to the sea wall.

It’s a luscious day for sure, but not exactly a scene from a stereotypical surfing dream. Still, the water is full of surfers braving the chilly Pacific and the rocky shore to ride the waves. Shivering tourists walk up and gape in awe at them. They’ve probably found that this part of California is colder than they imagined, but the sight of surfers surely lives up to California dreams.

I watch too. Although I’ve seen surfers numerous times, I’ve never seem them this close to shore. I notice how the surfers communicate with each other and with the water. When a wave is coming, they call out to people who can catch it. And when it’s their turn, they ride with grace for as long as possible, turning and sinking back into the water before they reach the rocks. From the shore, it looks like an admirable way to be completely in tune with what’s around you and a perfect balance of power and harmony.

Let the Fog Roll In

At the end of every summer, San Franciscans begin to look forward to the potential of the fall. You begin anticipate warm Indian summer days and weekends filled with festivals and just hanging out in Dolores Park. When that oppressive summer fog begins to recede, you’re not sad to see it go.

Months of sun and a little rain and much more sun go by and the fog stays away. You forget about it. And then one day it unexpectedly returns. And you are unexpectedly glad to see it. You like the way it engulfs the city like a long lost blanket. You like the way it dampens those loved and hated non-native Eucalyptus trees and their scent reminds you of San Francisco in the summer.

It’s a strange feeling to be happy to greet the fog. It’s like you’ve left the Bay Area behind. And now you’re just San Francisco. For now.

Presidio Habitats: Winged Wisdom

I found these words of wisdom between the trees to be the most compelling of all the Presidio Habitats installations. Even though I’d seen many photographs of Winged Wisdom before I visited the exhibition, it still startled me when I rounded a corner and saw giant letters below, shaded by the trees and illuminated by the late afternoon sun. I imagine that it has tickled many unsuspecting passersby in the past year that its been on display.

The structure of the letters of Winged Wisdom are made of steel and mesh. They are filled with straw, an ideal material for robins to build their nests with. The sayings in this installation are based on the “wise” ways of robins: “resolve conflict with song”, “adapt to change” and “nest from the inside out”.

This unique piece of art is wise and organic; whimsical and exuberant. And while it’s inspired by and dedicated to robins, it’s as much of an homage to words as it is to the birds.

Bring Your Own Big Wheel: San Francisco-Style Easter Fun

On Easter Sunday, for the past eleven years, people in San Francisco have gathered for what it is probably the strangest and most fun way to celebrate the day: Bring Your Own Big Wheel, a race down San Francisco’s windiest street. The race began on Lombard Street and eventually moved to Vermont Street at 20th Street which is the real curviest street in city, despite Lombard Street’s fame.

Once those who are brave enough have secured a kid’s plastic tricycle or Barbie truck or a large toy truck or a trashcan (really, anything dubious with plastic wheels on it), they take to Vermont Street and race down the street on whatever precarious method of transport they’ve chosen.

It’s not an event to spend too much time thinking about, it’s just a day to laugh a lot and revel in ridiculousness and sigh and say, “Only in San Francisco” with utmost fondness for the city.

The race happens regardless of the weather. As you can see above, this year, it was a sunny and pleasant Easter afternoon. Check out my write up and photos from last year’s slick and rainy BYOBW race here.