Here’s a picture I took on my way to Vegas. (You can click on these pictures for full size viewing.) I was on the left side of the plane, heading south. I think this picture is very cool because of the low altitude. My flights to Vegas start out going north from San Francisco Airport, then they break into an immediate 180 degree turn directly over The City and head south, giving me a view of home while the plane is still climbing. I estimate this view is from 8000 feet.
If you head east for about three miles from my place, to where the land casually merges into the bay, you’ll see an art installation I call Polehenge:
The poles are different lengths, but they are all the same height. I mean, the ground has its ups and downs, but the tops of the poles don’t. I mean, if you sat a huge sheet of wood on top of these poles, it would be level. The result is eye candy from every angle.
Polehenge is in Silicon Valley, so it’s not too surprising to find out that these poles are implanted in a high tech landfill. Mountains of trash are covered with earth, in typical landfill fashion, but they do it in a way that recreates wetland, right down to the bugs and birds. Lots and lots of birds come by and act like everything is normal. They pretend not to notice the occasional platter-sized metal plate sitting a couple inches above the grass from which exudes little geyser sounds — pshhhh — pshhhh — evenly spaced. It’s methane belching from below. It’s the earth farting.
Swans and pelicans and geese and grebes and dozens of other kinds of big birds and small birds and fast birds and slow birds and birds birds birds from all over the place come here. Way too many kinds for me to want to learn all their names. Most of them spend some of their time floating around so I just call them all ducks. Some of them zoom around in formation just barely above the water and they remind me of the Starfighters that Luke and his friends flew in Star Wars.
I can picture George Lucas sitting in a place like this 40 years ago, watching these birds doing their impressions of fighter jets, thinking, hmmm.
They made a walking path so that I can come and visit the ducks up close. I call it the duck walk. Along the main path there are these little offshoot paths that lead down closer to the waterways where the ducks hang out. At the end of each offshoot path there is a two-tiered wooden deck about the size of two doors. I sit on these decks. Sometimes for a long time.
One day I was sitting on this deck and something funny happened.
You couldn’t see me from the main path because I was at the right end of the deck, behind the bush. I was facing the water, sitting very quietly and very still, and I could hear everything. I could hear the sounds coming from the mouths of two people walking on the main path. I could hear their volume go up as they moved closer. I could hear the sounds of their clothing and I could hear the sounds coming from the ground when their feet were on it. I heard them stop at my little offshoot path. I heard one of them slowly walk toward the water, toward the birds, toward a surprise.
Then I heard the sound of feet making a quick stop on the gravel path. Sounds came from the organism in the form of gaspy, high-pitched, sudden words. “Oh! I’m very sorry to have startled you!”