Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Constancy and Connection

I have to thank my blog for helping me re-connect with my college girlfriend, Sandy, who googled and found me after nearly 30 years! Hi Sandy! it was great to see you again.

I guess really I am not that hard to locate, since I've lived in the San Francisco area since 1979..though I have had seven addresses that I can remember off the top of my head. It turns out that even though I have always thought of myself as an explorer and traveller, I am really a homebody. Once I find something good, I stick with it! Barb and I have been together for almost 24 years, we've been in this house for 12 years, I've been at my job for 8 years!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Lyon's Share

A few weeks ago, I started a regular staircase hike up Lyon Street, which runs along the eastern side of the Presidio. It takes me about 15 minutes to hike up the 6 blocks, four of which are stairs instead of sidewalk. I have noticed that some of the fancy homes along the route have taken the street name to heart, and have decorated their homes accordingly.

The first leonine sighting is of these Chinese lions guarding an entrance near the Lombard Gate.

Up the hill a little further, you can encounter a fiercer creature. There are two of these fine animals protecting one of the homes along this street. I'm starting to get a little out of breath as I climb the steep sidewalk.

As I approach the foot of the staircase, there are several huge homes to admire. From the top of the stairs, I've noted that they all have rooftop gardens and grand etched windows. This one has some lions, too - can you spot them?

Look for the lion faces along the rope design:

Let's start up the stairs. There are leveled areas every once in a while, so that you can pause to catch your breath and take a photo. During lunchtime, lots of area residents use these stairs as their personal gym. Joggers run up and down the stairs in their spandex outfits as I trudge along. At the top, personal trainers wait for them, and when they arrive, the trainers will have them do situps or stretches on yoga mats lined up on the sidewalk.

We are halfway up now. The stairs get a little grander, as befits the neighborhood.. the houses get pricier, the with each improvement of the view. These stairs have a lower rise, and so I can speed up a bit.

I was looking for lions, but found these darling puckish figures instead, on the entrance columns of one of the homes along the staircase. You don't see much bas relief on modern buildings. Is it a lost art, or just a trend that is bound to come back some day?

Panting a bit (but not as much as the first few times I attempted these stairs), I attain the corner of Lyon and Broadway. We are having some beautiful weather this summer - it's not as foggy as it often is in August. The temperature is in the mid 70s, with a fresh breeze, and I enjoy watching the ships and boats tool around in the bay. The trees you can see along the bayshore are at the Yacht Club, where I also enjoy walking during my lunchtime strolls.

Here's the gate that leads back into the Presidio. I head through it to take a downhill stroll through the beautiful eucalyptus forest that grows here. The trees were planted 80 years ago by the army. They are lined up in military rows and columns. Because Barb is writing a story on the Presidio, we got to take a tour lately, and the guide was saying that the Presidio Trust is concerned with the fact that all of the trees will reach the end of their lifespan at the same time. They are starting to replant trees (in a less organized pattern) to avoid the Park becoming suddenly treeless in some future year.

The smell as you walk beneath these grand trees is divine, and it clears out your sinuses, too. Be careful not to slip on the long leaves that are strewn on the sandy soil.

Now we've made a full circle and have arrived back at the Lombard Gate. These trees at the Gate are always alive with the screeches of a flock of wild parrots. If you have seen the film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, you know about these birds. They like to swoop around chasing each other, and every morning, a few fly noisily past my office window. If you haven't seen that movie, please rent it today. Promise me you will.