I generally do my stretching on the lawn in front of the Conservatory of Flowers. Golden Gate Park, on John F. Kennedy Blvd, begins here. Painted white, like a white-painted sand castle, the Conservatory stands in stark contrast to the patches of Crayola Crayon Colored flowers scattered around the lawn. The whole scene is woven with the sounds of picnic conversation, wind, the beat of runner’s feet, the humming of bike tires, and the clicking of cameras.
Running from the conservatory, the tall brown trees with dark green tops sway with the breeze like elephants marching to the sea. On the left is the brown battleship building of the De Young museum, and across the field, the glass-front Science Museum. In between the two museums is the music concourse with knobby trees that look like the knuckles of rising fist. This is a no-man’s land of tourists, dog walkers, wanderers, and Tai Chi practitioners. From above, in the DeYoung’s observation deck, they are black dots, bumping into one another and walking in circles.
On Sundays, if you look to the right, you’ll see a roller skate dance party straight from the summer of 1985, complete with fluorescent-colored shorts and sweat pants. A lot of naked torsos and bouncing pig tails disco-roller- skate-dancing in funky circle 8’s. Each person dances alone like giddy 16 year olds rehearsing for the prom alone in their rooms. If you look to the left, you’ll see an organized, chaotic cloud of people doing the Charleston to swing music swinging from large speakers.
The rose garden on your right […]
I didn’t intend to start running. It all started with a dog: Auggie. After the divorce, I decided that I should have a dog; something to sit at my feet while I worked. I had grand images of a pampered pooch splayed out on the rug, chin resting on my feet, always at the ready with some Norman Rockwell version of my life involving slippers and newspapers in his mouth.
Once I got him, I remembered that slippers made my feet sweat, and I read my newspaper online. All I was left with after I brought Auggie home from the SPCA was a floppy puppy that looked like a brown sack of bones. With ears and giant paws. And it was staring at me as if it wanted me to do something for him. So I fed him. He ate the food in a second. I watched him as he snorted and pushed my cereal bowl around the kitchen as if he was digging to the bottom of it for some unfound stock of food.
I began by taking Auggie on long walks at Fort Funston where he quickly learned to be off leash. I walked with my headphones on, and he sniffed and peed on the ice plant. On the beach, he’d chase the ball, and sniff the shells, touch the water with his feet and jump back as if it had bit him.
The walks lasted, at first, for about a half hour. After about the first week, the walks lasted an hour, and then about an hour and a half. Auggie and I explored different routes, weaving between trees whose branches had grown in an arch creating a tree-cave. We wandered around Funston’s different […]