Friday, March 21, 2008

Har den äran

High noon. I roll the car out of the garage. The top is already down. There is a blanket in the passenger seat, a book of Rumi's poetry, a bottle of water, and my camera. The weather is brilliant. I've got two days of sunshine left before I return home to Oregon, where it is raining. Of course. I love Portland for its rain, for its cool misty mornings, for the volcanic skyline and the unpretentious , surprisingly sophisticated people. But I am a California native, a 5th generation California Girl, and this--this land of golden hills and winding roads, of sunlight and fog--this land is in my blood. And in the past few days it has called to me, and I've recalled what I loved about it.

California Highway 1 again, across the Golden Gate Bridge. This time I do not stop in Sausalito, I press on, up to Mt Tamalpais, over and around, winding my way through groves of Eucalyptus and wildflowers that perfume the air with citrus sweetness. The car hugs the curves, growling up from the shaded sylvan corners into the sunny straightaways--the entire drive to Stinson Beach done in 2nd and 3rd gears. A blast of salt-scented air and warmth, and I am on the west side of the mountain, the car in neutral, gliding down the narrow highway toward the Pacific Ocean. A hawk follows my descent, gliding with me. Stinson Beach appears below, and I am awed by the power and beauty of nature. And deeply, deeply grateful that I am here to see, feel, and smell it. I am alive, despite the death and dying around me. And perhaps because of it, I am keenly aware of the joy and beauty to be experienced in my everyday life.
There are few people on the road with me. I thought there would be more, seeing as today is Good Friday, but I share the road with a few other people in convertibles and a lone highway patrolman. Most of the traffic on the road is cyclists, actually, and their stamina and svelte physiques awe me almost as much as the engineering wizardry that went into making this powerful car so very quiet. There is a 10 mile section of Highway 1 between Stinson Beach and the hook-up near Muir Woods where most of the drive is 20 miles per hour. Winding switchbacks that give teasing views of San Francisco to the South, before turning inland again.

The day, the drive, the car, me... it is all poetry. But it gets better!

Around 4pm I cross the Golden Gate bridge again, going south. I prop my camera on the steering wheel and got this shot, even:

Over the bridge, through the crossover to Presidio Park, make a right at Geary, two more rights to get onto Clement (it takes three rights to make a left in SF), and I am headed the right direction to pick up a very special cake for MR's birthday. My friend Janne is always talking about his swedish princess cakes and how much he loves them, and I'd despaired of getting one here in the States, but I found a German bakery in San Francisco called Schubert's that makes princess cakes. I know MR likes raspberry, and almond/marzipan, and I figured he would enjoy the kirsch custard and whipped cream and moist white cake. I mean, what's not to like? So I have my usual excellent parking luck in SF and got a spot a half block away from the bakery. I walk in and pick this up:
A swedish princess cake with a pale yellow-green marzipan icing, and the words "Har den äran Älskling!" which is the Swedish equivalent of "Happy birthday, my love" but literally says "In your honour, lover." It is a very light cake, airy. Even the custard is light. The raspberry layer is fresh raspberry, hardly sweetened at all -- it tastes vividly of sunlight and whole raspberries. MR approves. Yum and Yay.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really nice photo of the bridge :-)

4:43 AM, March 23, 2008  

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