Saturday, July 2, 2016

Lands End, San Francisco

I'm sitting at the base of a Cyprus tree - low, with sprawling trunks or limbs coming out of the sandy dirt. I got here by walking down dirt-covered steps then stooping underneath the tree branches. Its pine needles frame the most spectacular view - blue water, the curves of the headlands, Golden Gate bridge, green and tan cliffs to each side. And the light.

The light. Right now it's beaming down from the sun, reflecting on the water and warming my face. But earlier it was a soft glow, teasing at the end of the dark path, illuminating the forest in magical yellow. Then there was the Cyrpus path, perfectly aligned with the sun so it came down in fierce streaks through the branches overhead. Big, dramatic sprays of sunlight that I usually don't believe are real. They were waiting to be discovered around every bend, alternating my steps with shade and light. They fed my soul. When I thought I couldn't take in any more beauty, there were the flowers, spring up on the sides of the forest trail. Pink, lilac, white, small, hanging, climbing - just a small dusting of one type after another. I'm lucky to be here with so little fog.

I first panicked when my camera died, then pressed on with the promise that I would return, then soon retracted my promise and told myself to experience it today, now, and that is enough. But I'm still writing.

Sounds - the ocean breathing below me, birds chattering all around, and the steady call of a foghorn. I read about the multitude of ships that have gone down at the entrance of the bay. What tragic sights these trees have witnessed.

And the water - like a field, stretching dense and massive to the left (ocean), in front of me (to the headlands), and to the right (under the bridge). A consistent navy, barely marked with ripples and, barely, a boat. But the water below me turns, churns, and rolls with white froth, colliding with dozens of craggy black rocks that dot the small stretch of shore, then finally nestles on the smooth wet sand. I remember that I forgot to bring a container to collect sand. Birds fly in groups. The sunlight catches spiderwebs in the foliage to my right. Another hiker comes wandering up my path - time to leave and see the rest.

***

Later - chai and toast in the garden of Marla Bakery. Later - reading Julia Child on an enormous fallen tree trunk at the top of Strawberry Hill, then watching two hummingbirds dance on the branch above me, send out flashes of their long, silvery tongues. A hawk glides above and I catch its twin, the shadow gliding below.


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