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.
Some of the most beautiful ideas I’ve ever come across through my travels are those of a Buddhist monk and peace activist named Thich Nhat Hanh. On a motorcycle tour of Hue, Vietnam, we made a stop at a monastery where he had once studied. It was a gorgeous setting overflowing with greenery and flowers and peacefulness.
It was there that I first learned about him and his thoughts on interacting with the world. One of his most impactful ideas is that everyone and everything alive is a miracle. And that the ability to recognize the miracle in the creation of something as small and everyday as a fruit or vegetable is an important step to internal freedom and happiness.
In travel, this mindset can often come naturally. There are so many new experiences for the senses which bring about a heightened awareness of the small wonders of the world. It gets a little harder to sustain this kind of everyday appreciation in the monotony of the places you know well.
But in the event that you do forget, I think farmers markets, in all their earthy glory, are great places to begin remembering.
The California coast never leaves a prime location in my heart. It may sometimes be pushed further back by busyness or efforts to see the world, but my fervor for the sight and sound of water rushing toward the jagged edges of the state is always there.
For me, visiting the quiet stretches of California coast between cities is not about getting away, it’s about getting back to myself. The city has a tendency to warp me, sometimes in ways that are simply other sides of me that I haven’t met, but it can also twist me into people that I am not.
But the coast demands honesty as those breezes envelope me and draw out what doesn’t belong and fill that new found space with beauty and contemplation and freshness.
Lately, the coast has been calling me. And soon, I will go.
202 antique street lamps comprise the Urban Light sculpture at the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). It’s visible from Wilshire and I’d ridden past the columns of lamps numerous times, but this was my first time seeing it up close.
It’s a piece of artwork that incorporates a number of ideas that I love — it’s recycled, it’s interactive, it’s open for the public to enjoy, and there are an unlimited amount of ways to interpret it.
If it were not for the gigantic, multiple building museum I was about to explore, I could’ve spent an hour at that sculpture alone, discovering the different angles and viewpoints.
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.