This photo, I know, is not that that impressive. But! I just realised today that the gym I joined, which is on the UCSF medical campus/hospital, has this amazing nature preserve behind it. It’s not huge, but big enough to walk/jog about a mile or so on trails that loop through the preserve. It’s a nice little piece of forest, only a few blocks from my house. At the beginning of one of the trails, there is a trailside shrine filled with random coins, gifts, pictures, etc. (ah yes, California!) and then you wind up through eucalyptus and redwood trees to the top of the preserve, where the trees break a bit and you see this. Hard to tell, but that’s the Inner Sunset straight below, the patch of green just beyond is Golden Gate Park and the houses beyond that are in Inner/Outer Richmond. And beyond that is the ocean and the Marin Headlands, which although are hard to see in the photos, trust me, are definitely visible from the trail.
I thought, on the train, how utterly we have forsaken the Earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts. There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity. It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes & barrens & wilds. It still dwarfs & terrifies & crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. His gardens & orchards & fields are mere scrapings. Somehow, however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows. But the giant is there, nevertheless.
Wallace Stevens, in a 1904 note. (via washingtonpoststyle)
A good reminder, not to forget where (and what) our home truly is. Sometimes I look at constructed nature, as in the gardens and fields Wallace describes above, and it makes me think about how as humans we’re so desperate to control what cannot be controlled. What is larger than us. And how grand it is to sometimes submit to the wilderness and all of its chaotic beauty.
Goethe and Schiller (and an unidentified San Franciscoan) enjoying Saturday in the park. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.