Gift From an Unexpected Source

There used to be a network of raised freeways in San Francisco, just part of an imperial post-war US Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to totally encircle and criss-cross the city. Completing that plan would have cut the city off entirely from the very water that created and nourished it – the San Francisco Bay to the east, the Golden Gate to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

As it was, freeways were built down the Embarcadero, separating the city from its front door to the Bay, and right through the city’s center, casting huge swaths of several neighborhoods into perpetual shade.

Then, in 1989, we had a major earthquake that, among other things, hit these raised freeways hard. And the city brought them down, with the intention of rebuilding newer, safer versions. At least that was the plan. What actually happened was a bit different.

People started spending more time at the waterfront. Businesses sprouted like weeds where cold, dead shade had once been. Neighborhoods, like Hayes Valley, were reborn. The economy in those places grew. A school that had once stood underneath the shadow of the great freeway beast was now warm and light, and became a good and happy place to learn.

And in a clear expression of direct democracy, the people voted that we didn’t want the freeways back, thank you very much. We prefer living in a city that connects to the natural environment of water and sky, even if that means driving across the city takes just a little more time.

Today, thanks to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and as a result of the vote that followed, our waterfront has been reopened, whole neighborhoods have been revitalized, and there are more public parks, with public art, for the people to enjoy.

Another Day, Another World

Yesterday, San Francisco was brilliantly, extraordinarily sunny and mild; it brought out the happiest and best in us. You can read all about it here.

Today? Somewhat different story.

Fog, thick and moist, obscuring neighboring houses, not just the city’s landmarks, is blowing in from the great and mighty Pacific. Car headlights are on, for all the good they do. Kids bundled tight, fighting the cold and wet wind on their way to school.

The dog and I will brave the cliffs overlooking the ocean for our walk. I’ve decided on four layers – cotton, cotton, fleece, windbreaker; it will still likely be a fruitless attempt at staying warm. Once the moisture finds an opening, you’re done for.

Oh, and then there was this morning’s little¬†earthquake. Yes, we’re all fine here. Thank you for asking. To be honest, a 4.3 earthquake, as my friend King Kaufman said earlier, doesn’t even get us out of bed.

As much as it was right to give thanks yesterday for the sun, I give thanks today for the fog, just another expression of life’s beauty. Earthquakes, not so much.