Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Color Collaborative: July: Sail


All day long, we strolled along the famed Fisherman's Wharf. We stopped to look at almost everything. It was breezy but warm, the sun shining brightly in a clear blue sky. Sea birds flew overhead and roosted on railings and fence posts. Some scrabbled for food scraps on the piers. All were bold, unperturbed by the tourists, joggers and cyclists crowding the piers and walking paths. We headed north along the Wharf, the San Francisco Bay to the right of us, busy city streets to the left. As the day wore on, and the breezes picked up, the bay teemed with boats of every kind: sailboats, speedboats, passenger boats for tourists and far off in the distance, container ships arriving from far-flung places. 


Every few piers, there was another mooring for sailboats and I stopped to view them with interest. Sailing must be a big deal here; San Francisco hosted the America's Cup competition in 2013. It must be said that I am not a sailor. I grew up within a mile or two of the mighty Hudson River, but we were not a boating sort of family. I did have a ride on the sloop Clearwater when I was in elementary school; this is a sort of research vessel which travels on the river, offering marine education and raising environmental awareness. I remember very fondly the day my class spent on the Clearwater, which was manned by hippie college students and a few older professorial types: scruffy beards, tie-dye, bandanas. I enjoyed seeing the below-deck spaces, especially; the idea of sleeping in a boat was exciting to me. The views from the upper deck were spectacular; it was thrilling to watch the familiar landscape slide past as we moved down the river. Twenty-five years on, I remember oatmeal-raisin granola bars, "orange drink," springtime foliage, brownish water, bright-blue sky, white sails with a yellow and orange sunshine-like emblem.


On the Wharf, the boats just kept coming. By afternoon, they were out in force. The sky was not as clear in the afternoon, and a haze was developing far out on the bay. But boats were everywhere, close to shore and farther out, all the way out to the place where water blended with hills and sky in blurred layers of grayish-blue. People were enjoying their beautiful bay. We stopped in a park at the northern tip of the Wharf, exhausted from walking all day in the sun and the stiff, salty breeze. I had a light sunburn on my face. My legs and feet hurt. We lay in cool, green grass and listened to conversations in several different languages. We watched couples of all ages lounging and laughing in the sun. We watched sailboats move toward the vast orange expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge.


It was late enough in the afternoon that we were beginning to think about dinner. We walked back down the Wharf, in search of New England-style clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. You can get them almost anywhere on the Wharf but we wanted to eat at Alioto's, where we'd eaten almost ten years before, on our first trip to San Francisco together. We ate in a big, sunny window, overlooking sailboat docks. The boats rocked gently in gray water as the sun began to sink in the sky. The boats here were older; some seemed disused, I thought. They had names like Thor and Lucy. Some had fake-grass carpeting on their decks, worn and tattered. There was rust. It was not the pretty view of boats on other parts of the Wharf. It was interesting dinner viewing all the same. I don't usually get to eat a few feet from sailboats.


After dinner, we boarded a passenger boat to Alcatraz Island, to tour the old prison there (now a National Park and historic site). The sun was setting. The wind was calmer, the bay stiller than it had been in the afternoon. Water and sky were more defined now, the sky fading in progressive shades of blue, lavender and pink, the water deepening to turquoise and cobalt. I think a sunset sail must be wonderful. It was chilly on our passenger boat, though.  We sat on the open deck so we could see the bay. I was shivering in my sweatshirt. The passengers on our boat were mostly couples. There was lots of hand-holding and hugging to keep warm. We eventually did some of that too, once we both put our cameras down. I think this might be the most romantic city I've ever visited. In fact, my husband might not be here if it weren't for San Francisco. His parents, graduate students across the bay at the time, had their first date here close to fifty years ago, in a fancy seafood restaurant on the Wharf.


Our romance has connections here too. The last time we visited was a year to the day before I found myself seriously ill, struggling to survive the birth of our son. That's me above, in 2004, watching the boats and the hordes of seals basking on a pier in waning September sunshine. That first visit was short - a stopover, really - and I had always wanted to go back. I'm so glad we did. I watched the seals again, the few that were present in June, the many kinds of boats and the subtle, smeary demarcations between sky and land and water. I felt stronger and wiser this time, thankful for my happy marriage, my delightful children and my health, and the chance to see the bay again.


As the evening wore on, the sailboats dwindled in number but there were still a few out there, white sails billowing gently, right up until it got dark. The setting sun danced on the water and the sky faded gray to black, stars appearing through the haze. Our Alcatraz tour was fascinating, but I looked forward to the return trip, when I would see the bay at night. We collapsed into our seats on the boat, tired but satisfied, full with the experiences of the day. Night fell and lights sparkled all along the bay. Bridges, twinkling as if strung with fairy lights, stretched as far as I could see. We walked a long way again, this time back to our rented car. We held hands and laughed, giddy with the thrill of a rare nighttime outing, just the two of us, chilled and windblown and tired to the bone.

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 Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below: 

Annie at Annie Cholewa 
Sandra at Cherry Heart 

And July's guest poster, Leanne at Today's Stuff
 
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.

34 comments:

  1. What a wonderful travelogue. I love San Francisco, it's a special place for us too. We honeymooned there. Anywhere coastal always gets my vote. And what a beautiful blue sky! X

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  2. Hey Jennifer,
    I have always wanted to visit America, and San Francisco is one of the places I would want to go when I got there. It's sounds as if you have a real bond with the city. I love the idea of sailing off into the sunset too. Although I'd remember to take my jumper ;) xx
    Leanne xx

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  3. What a lovely, lovely post, Jennifer. And beautiful photos.

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  4. Amazing, a truly beautiful post from the heart.

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  5. You write so Well about San Francisco, Jennifer. I really want to go there! The trip across the water to Alcatraz sounds wonderful, and your last photo captures the scene beautifully. Love the sound of the clam chowder in a bread bowl - YUM!

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  6. What a lovely post, San Fransisco looks so picturesque. It's so nice to see you at the coast! It sounds like you had a really wonderful time, it's the perfect place for wandering round exploring. CJ xx

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  7. Such a lovely post Jennifer - I have really enjoyed my little trip out with you !
    Kate x

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  8. I love SF as you know from my previous comments and so on, but it was good to see it again and to read your thoughts about the bay and the boats and so on. I am glad that it holds special memories for you too! xx

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  9. Wonderful. I bet you made so many new memories when you returned to San Francisco, a special place for the two of you indeed.

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  10. I have never been to San Fransisco - it looks fantastic. I'd love to go to Alcatraz - that must be really interesting.

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  11. What a wonderful post! I felt I was there along with you. Your pictures are beautiful, and I'm glad you were able to go back.

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  12. What a lovely post, I'm struck by those amazing skies, I especially love the last photo...beautiful!
    V x

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  13. A lovely post, I love the personal history woven into it, the beautiful photos and emotional draw you have to the place xx

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  14. This is just a wonderful post, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing with all of us. Your photos are amazing... I love the bright, blue sky in the first one.

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  15. This is such a nice post to read - makes me want to visit SF rightaway.... It is written ten times better than any travel brochure !
    And such beautiful photos.....

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  16. SF looks so beautiful. What a beautiful piece of writing thank you for sharing such personal history. I would love to visit Alcatraz .As ever your photos are so inviting I always feel I am right there

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  17. I really enjoyed reading this. You have the gift of writing in a way that takes your reader with you. I even shivered as you shivered on the crossing to Alcatraz, and it's 29°C here this evening.

    That last image has to be my favourite ... white and grey, it draws me every time.

    Your son will love Swallows and Amazons I'm sure, he's just the right age for it.

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  18. What a beautiful post, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing it with us. :o)

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  19. What a lovely post! I loved reading it. San Francisco is on my list of must see destinations. It looks beautiful. Bee xx

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  20. Oh wow lovely photos looks amazing definitely on my list of places to go x

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  21. Thanks for taking us along with you. I love SF and have visited on several occasions and saw most of the things you did.. I'd like to go back. Enjoy your August.. it's coming fast. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  22. Hi there! Sorry I haven't been by in awhile; I'm behind on reading blog. Loved reading about your trip to SF and seeing the photos...I think I've mentioned to you that we went to SF for our 25th wedding anniversary 5 years ago. We loved SF...what a gorgeous and fun city!

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  23. What a lovely way to spend a day, I had the same dinner as you did when I was there.

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  24. I love the colorful common threads that weave through our lives, Jennifer...the Clearwater, Alioto's, the Golden Gate Bridge, happy marriages, precious children, and more.... xx

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  25. what a wonderful trip, filled with such evocative memories x

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  26. Lovely post Jennifer. Sounds like a fantastic trip. x

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  27. I loved reading this post, and beautiful memories x

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  28. Beautiful post, I always enjoy your interpretations of the color collaborative theme, but this one was especially lovely for me as it was a story, very similar to an experience I had on my honeymoon, one that I treasure, except, we visited hard rock cafe for our lunch (my hubby is an avid fan) and my sunburn was a little more than light, but I didn't let it stop me for enjoying my visit! Have a beautiful weekend, x

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  29. Oh I do love San Francisco, it really is a beautiful place and it sounds like you had a great trip. It's funny when you are out at night, without the children. It always feels like you are doing something wrong, in a cheeky kind of way! Maturity goes out of the window and all of a sudden, you are teenagers again. You have reminded me that my husband and I need to go out again soon, it is long over due. :) Thank you for sharing your trip and photos, I do enjoy your colour collaborative posts. :)

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  30. Wonderful tales of San Fran! The colours just sing out from your photos, and they bring back memories of my visit there years ago...thank you for sharing! Chrissie x

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  31. Thanks for this lovely post - as usual, you use both words and photos to fabulous effect. I am glad that you have all been able to return to a place where you have faced such challenges and just relax, watch the ocean, and spend time enjoying the company of family. I wish you many more days like these. H xxx

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  32. Lovely post, your words conjure up beautiful images but then you also have beautiful images to enjoy as well, so an all round treat!

    S x

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  33. Such a beautiful post! I love your writing is so very inspiring! xoxo Jen

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