dew on Alamo grass,

The lovely Painted Ladies of Alamo Square

gold splashed skyline,

hard breath between strides

–morning beauty so big it drowned out the sirens

One of the most famous parks in San Francisco is Alamo Square, a two block by two block square of grass and trees situated high on a hill in the city. Little did I know prior to moving to San Francisco, I grew up with Alamo Square. In fact, most American children raised on ABC sitcoms in the 1990s did too. Alamo Square, along with the famous Painted Ladies houses that line Steiner Street on the eastern side of the park, was the setting for the opening scene of the popular family sitcom. Remember the Tanner family picnic in the sun-bathed grass? The San Francisco Bay and skyline sparkling in the distance? Yep, that’s my view every morning.

I live one block south, one block east of Alamo. When you live in the city, natural spaces–no matter how public they are–become sacred places of refuge. So many mornings I wake in my nearly windowless shoebox sized room, groggily dress and step out into the whirling traffic of Fillmore and Fell, seeking morning peace beneath a tree canopy. Despite the all-pervading city hum that infiltrates the green spaces of the park, Alamo always provides. Here, a few observations of the city, inspired by the hilltop perch and those high-topped trees that compliment it so well:

Alamo, always Alamo, ever Alamo in the mornings. Today there’s a crow croaking in the Cyprus tree, and construction on Fillmore St a block a way that floods the space from here to there with piercing beeps, deep rumbling engine groans. There are people everywhere–in the park, en route to the park, on the perifery sidewalks of the park–people always everywhere in San Francisco. Even on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Especially on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. And dogs. I heard once when first moving to the city that there are more dogs here than children. This fact was recently verified by long-time residents.

The air is balmy today, maybe 60 degrees ( so strange to me for December). Park passerbys are bundled in long coats and hats, the occasional scarf. I think back to those mountain dwelling days when the inescapable chill of December was so deep it burrowed itself in my bones. But now, today, I too am wrapped in fleece, a hat. The city is making me soft. Christmas nears but with these damp, cotton filled skies, it could be March, April, October perhaps but no way no how December. But here beside this red trunk, it’s nature I’m near and that’s all that matters.