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.
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.
When it comes to driving between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Highway 101 is the happy medium between the practical I-5 and the beauteous and time consuming coastal drive along Highway 1.
In metropolitan areas, the 101 can feel like a congested path that will only lead to a concrete jungle or strip mall. But between cities and suburbs, the large expanse of it is many different things.
It’s mountains and oak trees and rolling hills that are impossibly green after months of rain. It’s farming communities with under-appreciated migrant workers who labor to provide stores with the wonderful produce that we often take for granted in California. When the 101 intersects with Highway 1, it’s glorious vast misty ocean. It’s history. That particular route originated as a path between the missions that were built by the Spanish. They called it the El Camino Real.
At times, the 101 is also tiny towns where isolation has preserved an antiquated atmosphere; towns that emanate vacancy and melancholic beauty.
We hadn’t quite reached the entrance for the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve when we started to spot fields and hills brushed with orange and yellow. How could we not pull over?
On that day, the wind blew freely and forcefully in the Mojave. As I stepped out of the car, I felt its chill and massive strength. We ran across the street and over to this field. There was a little path in the middle of it leading to nowhere in particular. I imagine the path was created over the years by people like us who were not content to continue driving past so much beauty, so they pulled over in the same spot to take a closer look and let the wind consume them.
Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.
- Rainer Maria Rilke