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ON A CLEAR DAY...
13 December 2013
I'm madly in love with San Francisco, especially on a clear day, when it sparkles like a collection of jewels in myriad colors and shapes.
I suppose everybody loves the place where they were born, but if you're lucky enough to be born in a place that everyone wants to visit, you are, by nature, more proud of your home town.
And when that place looks as beautiful as my city by the bay...how can you help it--you keep falling in love over and over again.
I love all the faces of San Francisco. I love the fog so thick you can't see half a block ahead of you, and so cold that if you walk out onto the bridge, your goose bumps have goosebumps.
I love the wind that whistles through the tall buildings and, when I was a kid, would blow the smell of chocolate up from the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory, to be mingled with the roasting coffee beans down on the wharf to give a cloud of mocha to walk through at the start of your day.
I love the bay windows on the houses, jutting out over the sidewalks, and leaving wonderful little nooks and crannies inside, places to hide on a cold day, curled up with a good book.
I love the hills that make tourists gasp and make me feel powerful because I know how to drive them. (I can even parallel park on a 45-degree slope in a stick shift car!...or used to be able to.)
I love the sound of the cable car bells, the clatter of the underground cable, and even the long line of tourists waiting for a little ride, because I can remember when a ride was only 10 cents and you could usually get a seat. I remember using the cable car to commute when I was in high school. I remember the days before queues, when you stood on the turntable and leaped on the car as it was being turned around at Powell and Market.
I love the diversity of the people--the business men and women marching with determined stride through the financial district. The little Chinese women carrying their net bags to the shops on Stockton Street (not the tourist Chinatown of Grant Ave., but the Chinatown of its residents), filling them with strange looking foods. The old Italian men lounging about in Washington Square Park, in the shade of St. Peter & Paul church. The Latino restaurants in the Mission District sending wonderful smells wafting out on to the street. The homeless at the parking lot for the opera house and symphony hall, who smile and greet you and get to know you if you're a regular, and don't mind if you don't drop a quarter in their cup, but are very appreciative if you do.
I love the tourist traps like Fisherman's Wharf. I love walking Pier 39, watching the seals lounging on the boat ramps. I love standing on Twin Peaks of Coit Tower, taking more photos than the tourists.
I love the bridges and Golden Gate Park. I love the waves pounding off the shore of ocean beach.
I love knowing where I am at all times and how to get where I want to go, even if it's by some esoteric route.
I love having grown up two blocks from "the crookedest street in the world," and knowing the city's dirty secret--that it's not even the crookedest street in San Francisco.
But more than anything else, I love San Francisco on a clear, sunny day.
The sight of the city glistening in the sun is so beautiful it literally takes my breath away. Not a cloud in the sky and not a speck of pollution. Just clear blue skies and clean air and that Oz-like mecca catching the rays of the sun as they bounce off the water of San Francisco Bay.
Tourists out in full force, walking across the bridge and taking each other's picture with the city as a backdrop. I smile smugly. "That's for civilians," I think to myself. They'll go back to Peoria or Duluth and show Aunt Martha their pictures...but I get to stay here. I'll cross that bridge again in the fog, and in the rain, and I'll be here when the next crystal clear day comes.
San Francisco is like a beautiful woman who never goes out of style and only gets more beautiful with each passing year. She's a woman I'm madly in love with and I don't care who knows it.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
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