Posted: May 26, 2016
Wildlands of San Francisco
It is all around us and it is relentless. Right now it is working at destroying our homes and cities. While we sleep at night it is tirelessly toiling away. Overcoming everything we know. Everything we have made. Everything we will ever do. There is no escape, we are in a symbiotic relationship with it. We love it deeply and without it we will die. Yet in the long run, our species will be gone and it will overrun this world until all life is gone and there is nothing left but a burnt ember orbiting the Sun.
You have been a witness to the battle so long, you don't even recognize it anymore. A weed growing through a crack in the sidewalk. The moss on a fence post. The Spider hiding away in a corner of the bookshelf. Chaos... Nature... Uncontrolled life.
But we think we can control it.Our suburbs and cities are our attempt at organizing it and creating structure so we can have huge conglomerations of human protoplasm interacting with itself for the betterment of itself. ...An act which seems to be becoming more and more out of control. We are of nature, out of control, bound by chaos.
In our attempt at creating structure, in the building of our cities, there are always spots where Nature reins supreme. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes through neglect, and somtimes because it is just too bloody hard to build something there. In today's missive I will share some of San Francisco's out-of-control spots.
One of the many things that San Francisco is a city of is staircases. Most of the time they are an assist up a hill or between levels that are too steep for a street but fine for a person on foot. "Bridges of elevation" one might say, but here and there throughout the city they can be found as entryways. Invitations to unseen places. Portals to the little reminants of the wildlands that are impossible to eradicate.
Whether rough-hewn or tidily made, there are stairways that seem to invite you. "Follow me, I'll lead to some place interesting."
Sometimes you will see a path going off to the side. Perhaps you have passed the place before, and not noticed it. It has always been there. Isn't it about time to take a look and see where it goes? This path is by Sutro Tower, you only have to duck under that tree to follow it.
And sometimes the entryway is posted & emblazoned, inviting you in. The best gardens are a form of managed chaos. This is the entry to a "Nice Neighborhood Garden" by Bernal Hill.
The sign didn't lie, thisis a nice neighborhood garden. It's a very nice neighborhood garden. If you find it, treat it with respect If you find a talkative neighbor that is working it, you will hear some great stories!
Sometimes, when walking through one of these wild places you will come upon a developed bit that is surprising and delightful. When San Francisco put in this reservoir there were no developments nearby or even this high on the hill. Imagine how much this view is worth now.
Wandering along these paths you get to see different plants like this leather-leaf fern (Polypodium scouleri). This one is happy and healthy living unmolested off the beaten track.
Look carefully and you can see the wildlands slowly making progress. This disused walkway off of Forest Knolls has so little traffic moss is starting to grow on it.
If you leave it alone long enough it will go wild all on its own. This Australian Tea Tree looks like a photo of a modern dancer where they kept the shutter open.
A little big of weather makes the wildlands even wilder. This dog just stood there for a few minutes peering into the fog looking for its owner? ...Or maybe she was channeling her inner wolf.
When you wander through unmanicured places the disarray finds an order of its own. An old tree stump loses section of its bark revealing a tightly patterned figuring.
This is all that is left of the massive Sutro Baths complex which burned down in 1960. The only bathers are waterfowl.
While the paths that run along the cliffs & bluffs at the western side of the Presidio are developed, they give you access to the stony beaches and views of the serpantine cliffs.
Out in the Portrero district you can find this rotting shed that has a prickly pear cactus cozied up against it. Just doesn't seem like San Francisco, but there it is. If you squint, you can see the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance on the right side.
And when you are done rambling around the town, you can grab your guitar and serenade the sunset from the top of one of the Sand Dunes by Ocean Beach.