Oh spring. Oh the lovely season. I just slipped out of work for 20 minutes to take advantage of the day and went directly to the park where I threw down my coat and stretched out like a cat in the sun, The grass was blazingly green. I listened to gulls screaming at each other high above as the fog began its slow whisping in; I heard the dull roar of a Coast Guard helicopter heading for the coast. I dozed for a few moments. I read a little Alice Munro. I watched the butterflies. It was terribly idyllic.
The weather turned last week and while I doubt it will last I’m soaking up every last drop of sun, of blue sky, of sea-swept wind. I realized last week I’ve lived in San Francisco for five years and I barely even noticed it, life has been so busy. Usually I take a minute to reflect, but this year I think it only necessary to say Thank g-d I moved. And, I love this place.
I love this place for many reasons, and one of those is coworkers who have orange trees in their backyards and who then bring those oranges in to the office to share. (Note: these weren’t even the oranges growing on the trees but the ones that had fallen off. A bounty of oranges! In the backyard! I think I’m moving to the East Bay.) I don’t usually like to eat oranges much; it’s such a gamble whether they’ll be juicy or deplorably wizened once you cut into them, plus the pith, plus the effort. But these … these were small miracles of brightness, sweet and full of flavor. I ate three in one afternoon — just eating them! I never do that. Another handful I took home and squeezed into juice for my Sunday morning breakfast.
As I drank, I felt lucky to live here, and lucky to have such generous friends.
Actually, that’s a lot of what I’m feeling lately: lucky. The word ticks away at the back of my mind even when I feel the wee-est bit stretched to my limit (deadlines? I gots ’em!) and desperately needing a nap. But really — I’m lucky. I need to remember that.
And I am: up the street from me there are cypress that are old and bent with age and wind; the landscape of my childhood. If I run the 4-ish miles through the park I’ll be at the beach, and often there are lots of dogs. I can take the bus up north to home, my childhood house. I can slip across the bay on the ferry to Marin, over the hills and into the woods to a sweet black lab who very patiently allows me to hug him at whim. I can drive up to the mountains and the Yosemite Valley. (Going to the mountains is going home, according to John Muir. Indeed: yes.) I am lucky for good friends, for real love, for piles of books from the library, for rain often and sun oftener (the fog, which comes even oftener than those, I am not so lucky for), for plane tickets east, for making udon noodles on a Friday night and sliding into bed early to watch a movie, for drinking champagne on a Sunday afternoon.
So I guess I do need to mark time’s passing a bit after all, mostly just to say:
Dear California: thanks for five years. You’re awesome.
Yesterday I fell out of strange dreams to make tea, a fried egg sandwich, quinoa soup, read the NY Times, do laundry, think about homemade jam, drink lots of water, lace up my running shoes for what turned out to be a ridiculously long excursion (12! miles!). The sun was out from the moment I stepped out of bed ’til the moment I went back to it, shining along Ocean Beach and up the coast to Marin (I could tell) and bathing the city in that white-gold light that’s so endemic here and which I’ve not seen anywhere else in quite the same way.
Just before leaving the house I drank a glass of the orange juice from my friend’s oranges — it tasted like sun, like spring, like the weather right now. I know it’s the end of citrus season and I may have to wait another year to enjoy its like again but I feel — yes! — lucky I got to savor it while I did.
So: it’s April now. Spring. There’s asparagus everywhere. I saw some tiny strawberries at the market this weekend. The guy who sells eggs at my farmers’ market is graduating college and how nice that is. I forgot my coffee on the table when I bought radishes but it didn’t matter. Later, I thinly sliced those radishes and ate them along with peeled carrots, just dipping them gently into a little pile of sea salt. Bliss.
Did I mention — lucky? I’m going to catch hold of that feeling by its heels and hang on to it for as long as possible.