Along with millions of others, I was on the road yesterday. I hadn't planned to go anywhere. I had spent the morning puttering about, sweeping floors, washing sheets, pruning vines, and was just settling down at my drawing table when a dear friend called and asked if I wanted to go with her to Sausalito and walk about the annual art show. Why not, I thought -- I am always too alone inside, reading, writing, drawing -- and agreed.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic on the bridge, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the short hop freeway to Sausalito. Stop-go-mostly stop traffic along Sausalito's main street. Huge very official signs for parking -- $10/$20 take your pick. This lot full. That lot full. No room at the inn. Finally we parked in a mostly empty parking lot of a Chinese restaurant, closed for the day, and then walked to the festival, marveling at the long lines of festival goers waiting for the huge buses contracted to ferry folks the not-so-many blocks (2? 3? maybe 4?) between the parking lots and the festival gates. They would wait longer in the hot sun for their hiccup of a ride on those gas-guzzling air-conditioned buses than it would take us to walk leisurely from the most distant parking lot.
We paid our last dollars to the ticket taker (no discounts for artists, deep discounts for children, smaller discounts for age, none for wisdom) and entered the grassy alleyways of art, paintings settled against makeshift walls, tents winging white against the blue blue waters of the harbor, steel sculptures casting blue shadows on bits of woven paper and fragile hand-painted silks.
I like happy.
After walking about from tent to tent, booth to booth, for more than three hours, I felt rather hot and tired, my mind smoothed rather than joggled about, which I found a bit disturbing. I was glad, of course, to see so many actively creating but had hoped to see more heart less glitz than I had seen and so despite the sweat settling on my lower back, I felt a bit dry and deflated. Perhaps, I was simply on overload.
Soon, we were back on the road, bumper to bumper over the sparkling waters of the bay, moving into the slushy sway of East Bay traffic, slow enough to let me read the banner hanging from the overpass at the Berkeley Marina:
WAKE UP AND SMELL
I breathed and I could smell it, thick rich and dark, the decay of centuries slowly thawing and settling, sifting ancient waters into rivers mixing with the sea. The ice is melting; the traffic is bumper-t0-bumper. Too many are looking for ways to extract more oil, more gas. Too few are speaking about how to reconfigure our lives so we use less energy. Drive less. Fly less. Plant gardens. Eat local produce. Turn off air-conditioners. Turn down the heat. Localize.
The gate in the picture above? It leads from an ancient cemetery to an even more ancient tree. The cemetery holds the bones of sailors whose ships went aground in stormy seas. Those bones are dust now, but the tree, young when the graves were dug, still clings tenaciously to the windblown cliff, living branches sprouting from those that seem broken and dead.
WAKE UP AND SMELL
Where do we go from here?
PS . . . Go see Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild . . .