29 November 2014

Across a foggy Gate: Yesterday's reach

I'm heading back to California next week for the North Face Endurance Challenge Series - although I am entering the meekest of the races, the half-marathon, rather than the 50-miler or marathon. It's a trail race in the Marin Headlands, from which certain vantage points you can see the ocean, the city, the bay and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge in one grand vista.

From a previous visit....fog rolling in from the Headlands
I called the Bay Area home for many years and have made it back for a few short visits since I left to join the Corps. I love it for many reasons and some of my best running memories are from the area: the trails in Redwood Regional Park, the scent of the eucalyptus trees lining the Strawberry Canyon trail, the long, looping run from Chrissy Field up through the Presidio, the Embarcadero run streaks along the waterfront past the piers and the Headlands trails, sweeping from Sausalito, past Muir Beach up to Stinson Beach and climbing to Mt. Tamalpais with brutal ascents and sweeping views at each peak.

The other thing which I miss is the fog, swirling in from the ocean and nestling amongst the hills before crossing the bay and wisping up the Berkeley canyon walls. I loved running through it, collecting perfect beads on my eyelashes, morning swim workouts under its smoky shroud and watching it swirl in, blanketing the bay and settling in, subduing the cacophony below.

The food is cornucopic and glorious, too much so to detail here, but I will be sure to highlight gastronomic delights while I am there.

So, in addition to a law school visit, it is my history that draws me back - my friendships, my favorite places and my memories. I won't be swimming from Alcatraz this time around, but hopefully, I'll take a dip in the Pacific at some point!

A poem in tribute from my Writer's Almanac archives:

The Changing Light

The changing light

            at San Francisco
    is none of your East Coast light
           none of your
                   pearly light of Paris

The light of San Francisco

             is a sea light
                       an island light

And the light of fog

        blanketing the hills
    drifting in at night
           through the Golden Gate
                      to lie on the city at dawn

And then the halcyon late mornings

    after the fog burns off
      and the sun paints white houses 
                     with the sea light of Greece
      with sharp clean shadows
       making the town look like
                             it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o'clock

                                    sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim

           when the new night fog
                            floats in

And in that vale of light

                   the city drifts
                           anchorless upon the ocean

The Changing Light by Lawrence FerlinghettiHow to Paint Sunlight© New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2001. 

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