I have written before about how I’ve developed a new appreciation for nature on this trip. The landscapes of America are so varied and breathtaking, it’s easy to get lost out the window as we drive through new terrain. But I think perhaps it is more than novelty and grandeur that has seduced me. I suspect that there is something magical to be found outside.
Yesterday I had the whole city of San Francisco to myself. I was armed with a MUNI pass, a camera, and a little bit of cash in my pocket. I was eager to explore all of her urban offerings, to indulge in a little cosmopolitan fantasy, if only for an afternoon.
I went to the park.
Of all the places that called to me, this siren song was the sweetest. I wanted to take my time strolling the paths and snap a photo or two before heading back into the real city. It was just going to be a brief interlude.
But oh, how Mother Nature drew me in. The smell of the eucalyptus trees beckoned me deeper into the grassy oasis, where the sound of falling water caught me completely by surprise. I smiled at the runners and power walkers who passed me on the sidewalks; fitness is as much apart of the landscape here as the hills. As for me, I kept walking, pausing every now and then to attempt to capture a moment with my camera.
After a few hours in the park, I considered hopping on a cable car and making my way to a trendy cafe for an afternoon of people watching. Instead, I caught the Fulton-5 bus just outside the park and went to the beach.
I’ve seen quite a few beaches in my lifetime, and I never stop loving the way the water laps at the land. At Ocean Beach, the beach laps at the city, its sands unable to be contained by boundary lines or walls. Inspired by the rebellious land, I took off my own socks and shoes and walked out onto the sand. I turned towards the sun, took a deep breath, and swept my arms above my head in salutation.
I spent a half an hour doing yoga on that beach, just because I could and I’ve always wanted to and there I was with the chance.
After putting my socks and shoes back on, I hiked up and then down a big hill to the Sutro Bath Ruins, an abandoned attempt at luxury on the wild coastline. I can’t imagine why the bath houses and salt water pools were left to decay, but I’m glad they’ve been left for me. I took a few more pictures and several more deep breaths, and then hiked up yet another hill to yet another bus.
I rode a few miles into the city and ate alone at an Indian buffet. The little restaurant on Geary, the buses, and the BART I took home would be my only urban exposure of the day. I didn’t miss a thing.
I came home happy, exhausted, and convinced that time outside is an integral part of my ongoing happiness. I don’t know if it’s the medicinal effects that sunshine has been reported to have on depression, or the physical activity that almost always seems to accompany being out instead of in. All I know is that I struggle to get outside often enough, but when I do I am restored.
It’s funny how the things that are best for us are always the most difficult to fit into our lives.
This post, and this trip, are made possible in part by sponsorship from Silver Dolphin Books, who have a whole bunch of children’s books dedicated to the magic of the world outside.