One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sounds of The City

Our City by the Bay pulsates with sound; car brakes squealing to a stop at the bottom of a ridiculously steep hill, horns honking, sirens wailing, motorcycles roaring. On top of this cacophony, we San Franciscans often go about our day to the drone of fog horns and the chatter of wild parrots.

Music also weaves its way through the sounds of the city. On a recent morning outing with my Sheltie walking companion, Emma, we covered a regular route through Russian Hill and down into North Beach. On our first stop at Michelangelo Park, we were serenaded from a nearby open window by a tenor rehearsing his part for the current production of San Francisco's Opera, Aida. Moving on, we passed a boy with a boom box listening to Jay-Z rapping. And then at Washington Square Park, a small group had assembled after their morning tai chi practice to rehearse a Chinese pop song accompanied by a man with an accordion, while in another corner of the park, an elderly man played a simple lullaby on a violin to his grandbaby  fussing in a stroller.

As a final punctuation to our outing, we waited at the corner of Union and Mason while a cable car brakeman rang the bell to a beat that went something like "clang ka-clang kaka clang ka-clang kaka clang kaka clang kaka clang ka-clang."

Returning home, this eclectic and diverse mish-mash of music lingered as the soundtrack to our day. What musical rhythms accompany you through your day?

Sharry Phelan Wright

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First day of autumn....first day of the blog

This time of year, I pull my hat out of the drawer, but leave my gloves behind. My ears get cold first. A sign that autumn is here. This morning--in the early hours of the equinox--I ran with my dogs, Winn-Dixie and Fundy. We were on the 4 mile trail that winds and curves along the Winooski River, which winds and curves through Richmond, the small town in northern Vermont that I call home. One of my favorite places on earth.

Down on the trail, Winn-Dixie took off ahead of me. (Yup, he's named after the Winn-Dixie. He was a stray from down south, after all. And he smiles too!) Winn always cruises, but he seemed to sniff out even more creatures in the cooler air, and put even more distance between us than usual. Fundy trotted behind me, more interested in finding an easy access to the river. She swims like it's summer, no matter what the season is. And me? The water is too cold for me now, but I loved running alongside it, watching the low mist move at the same lazy pace as the current, and I loved the on again-off again smell of wood smoke wafting from the few houses on the road above that make it a rule to start their woodstoves on the first day of fall.

This trail--where the water and the earth meet--always feels magical to me. And today it felt especially so. This is the place where I feel the most whole and the most like me, and at the same time it is where I feel utterly and completely woven into the world.

My feet...the roots of the hands...the unfurled breath...the wind...

...all connected.

Tam Smith

Autumnal Equinox; A Beginning

Autumn is my favorite season. Despite the fact that I've lived with San Francisco's subtle seasonal shifts for over 3 decades, I still associate this time of year with raking scarlet foliage, breathing in the rich smoky aroma of burning leaves, and layering sweaters against the cooling days and crisper evenings. (Something we do all year round in San Francisco!)

But even in a somewhat mono-climate, where the few deciduous trees quietly curl and relinquish their browning leaves only to have them quickly swept away by street cleaners, we West Coast city-dwellers have ways of marking and identifying the changing season. The reminders I have noted over the past week: rust-toned paper leaves strung in the window of a small dress shop in North Beach, roasting peppers and barrels of apples at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, the changing demographic of the cable car riders from families to an older crowd that doesn't plan their vacations around the school year, more English and Mandarin, less French, Italian and German spoken on the street as the Europeans head back home.

But what signals autumn most clearly to me is the change in light. Today is the equinox, but for weeks the light has been drifting slowly to a lower angle that stretches shadows of buildings, hills, trees and pedestrians. This shift of light, with its blend of melancholy and fading abundance, is incredibly moving to me; I can imagine my soul leaning into its tangible presence.

What signals the arrival of autumn for you?

Sharry Wright