The morning fog may chill the air
I don’t care!
– Tony Bennett (“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”)
That may be his opinion, but I cared! While in San Francisco last weekend, I felt as if I were in some strange time warp. It was so cold there that I found it difficult to recall what month it actually was. People were all bundled up in leather jackets, black hose, neck scarves and wool hats. Someone mentioned an upcoming fall event, and it gave me pause, as I thought to myself, “What month is this?” August, for pete’s sake!
Thankfully, I’ve been to SF enough that I had no need to ride the cable cars or go to Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz or the Golden Gate Bridge. Rather each time I am blessed to visit this iconic city, I now focus on art.
SF is a destination city for artists, both visual and performing. The museums are fabulous as are the galleries. On Saturday, we went out to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park (via a most amusing cab ride with a garrulous and glib cabbie) to see the “Birth of Impressionism” exhibit, a collection of masterpieces on loan from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. As an art history major, I was thrilled to see these treasures in person. Prints or slides don’t do them justice.
But for free, the street art is almost as much fun to watch; sometimes artists will ply their trade in organized outdoor exhibits, or just be creative on the spot.
Let’s talk about performing artists. Yes, some of these folks are jobless or homeless, with many who perform for handouts. But I think those who are really creative about it add to the city’s personality. My favorite one this year was the perky accordion player at the place where the cable cars turn around; there is always a large crowd assembled there, and I imagine that she gets lots of tips!
Then there was the “Yoga for Hope” gathering in Union Square. I was thinking… what was the purpose of this exercise? People watching in SF is always interesting. Joel said he was very hopeful after observing all these people doing yoga together (note the sarcasm).
The sights of SF are endlessly interesting around every corner, as the streets wind through the city’s storied hills. I love the variety of architecture, both old and new, and the public art that enhances the parks and plazas. In the summer, the flowers are gorgeous; I loved the purple flowering trees on the south side of Union Square, and wish I had taken a photo of them.
When the sun burned off the ubiquitous fog, the weather was actually quite pleasant, the perfect mix of cool air and warm sun. But often that didn’t happen until late afternoon, which resulted in a gloomy morning chill. Add a brisk wind, and it was downright COLD. I finally went out and bought some black tights to cover my goose bumps.
Did I mention the food? Oh my goodness, what good food and what a variety! I felt quite indulgent eating all meals out, and with all my walking about, I ate most heartily.
However, upon reflection, the thing I most enjoyed about our trip to SF was being with our friends from years ago, and also our more recent contacts through the ABA group.
Connecting with our SF friends whom we haven’t seen in years was such a treat; James and I go back to childhood days in New Orleans. I hadn’t seen him in decades, but our families are close, and we enjoyed catching up after way too long. We enjoyed lunch at a jewel of a French restaurant, and I loved getting to know his wife, Cinne, seeing their photos and laughing about days gone by.
D’Ann met us for drinks at the bar atop our hotel, which had great views of the bay. She was a dear friend back in our high school days at Lamar, but has lived out in SF since early in her marriage. We also fell right back into easy conversation, shared photos of our families, and played the “whatever happened to…?” game.
When it was time to leave, we hit the down button on the elevator (we were on the 36th floor), but nothing happened. Then we heard the ominous sound of the fire alarm; we were stuck until the “all clear” signal. Here came the firemen, all decked out in their smoky smelling coats!
When we discovered that it might be 30 minutes before we could descend, we opted to walk down the stairs with some other folks. Happily, the all clear came when we hit the 22nd floor; walking downstairs in heels is not a very good idea, and my calf muscles were quite irritated with me.
As for our ABA friends, being with them was like being at a reunion. Over the years we’ve been attending these meetings, we’ve made some very dear friends from all around the country, and it’s always special to spend time with them over a good meal and glasses of wine. Probably too much wine, but sometimes that’s what happens on vacation!
All in all, it was a wonderful trip with just enough “forced idleness” to recharge my battery and planned activities to pique my interest. Add in some good nights of sleep, and I returned restored and ready to get back to work amidst the chaos that is my house being remodeled.
A final postscript: after spending 4 days being a popsicle, I am actually enjoying being back where it is warm. At least for a few days, I am not going to complain about the heat; I just can’t imagine not having summer!