As anyone who grew up near the ocean has felt, something shifts inside you when you get near to it, especially after time apart. A homecoming, a sense of inevitability, a low-resonant peace… For me as I walk up to it I feel as though I am greeting it, as though I’ve been remiss and not visited frequently enough. Above the crush of the waves, on the broken cliffs, with the point jaggedly curving around miles off, I stood in the cold wind, put my down, gortex and cap on.
The sky was moving so fast. This opening in the landscape makes the sky seem cruelly breathtaking. Hiked 15.5 miles today by myself, up and down through misted dense forest and still I wasn’t filled with peace until I was headed back and I stopped my car by the vast beautiful nicasio resevoir and saw the high clouds broken and blowing. Black and white cows graze, grey rock formations stand out on hills in lonely clusters. A young calf nuzzles it’s mother over and over, his hair puffed out young and warm, cow-bedhead. The horses wear blankets. The birds drift on gusts, the estuaries are silver glass, communities of birds rise and fall like single units, 3-d fractals, mesmerizing actually! They point their little bodies like torpedos one minute, the next their wings spread in complete unison. The spring green hills are dreamlike soft sexy undulating curves you almost can’t tell how steep their slopes are or how course the grasses really are.
The trees grow so uniquely here, bent by the wind, their foliage leans, grows up together, stronger as one surface, with an effect like a shaped hedge. They swoop the curves of the hills, banded together to survive the wind. Through 15 miles of coastal scrub, redwoods, dense forest with moss drifting from their damp limbs, I walked like a fire was chasing me, staying warm only while moving, I felt anxious when in the wind for more than 15 minutes. For me, how nice a cabin to be safe from the wind would be…a head trip to think what it would be like to never have shelter from that. As much as the place feels like home, as beautiful as it is, it’s a harsh landscape… the clouds rolled in harder and the thick cloud layer set in.
Some people think this world is ruled by chaos, violence, that we’ll destroy it, that we’ll kill it. When I’m here I see patterns, I see communities of creatures, I see birds arcing through the air and drifting on the wind together, I see a pervading ethic of life, I feel what some people call god, and I know that things change, and I know that any beautiful place might be destroyed, but I also know that life, in some form, will always prevail. This place gone would be a lost battle, but the war has always been in the hands of life. I can feel that in my bones, in my nerve endings, in shivers down my spine here. I saw it in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge in the faces of laughing, joyful and hospitable people as they walked or drove between bomb craters in the road, I saw it in the overgrown temples, I see it in the weeds growing in the cracks of our pavement, I see it in our president, I see it in the wrinkles of my grandparents 90 year-old smile lines, I see it in rubble, I see it in tears, I see it in the sky and I feel it in the air, I see it in the end of the branches of a tree when green buds begin to emerge like bright little stars against the dead looking brush.
ANYWAY, off my high horse about that. Most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen as I reach east bay. The sky is graded orange pink purple spanning the entire horizon, unifying SF, Marin, East Bay, reflecting on the water of the embattled estuaries. I pull off the freeway and as I sit four other cars pull off and park too. Fills me with some hope in a strange way to see other people spontaneously pulling away from the traffic flow also, to appreciate some momentary and fleeting beauty. We’re sharing this experience, an anonymous sense of camaraderie. From where I left the green, the air, the fecundity, the road goes from 2 lanes to 4 to 6 to 10, the smoke pipes rise, the storage facilities at the side of the road explode in flat fields of flat white and grey rooves, the big glass buildings sit and feel like litter boxes to me, sanitized crap. It happens so quickly! From only a paved road to no trees and I am just filled with sadness watching birds fly over this freeway. The building of SF are just as tall as the hills near it, these vast tracks of concrete…and these people pull over to take pictures of the sunset, fleeting moments of feeling completely consumed, enveloped in beauty. Shards of orange and purple clouds, over the purple mountains that I was just in an hour ago, and I wonder what am I doing living on this side of the bay? Ack! But, I remind myself, still we live in this world of both incredible beauty that makes me want to forget everything else and find a shack in the hills to give myself to, and the vast darkness that we live in, cities…Always the thought of creation and destruction giving rise to the other…