Running in the rain on a Saturday, sans iPod. Usually music is necessary, drowning out the sounds of another chaotic weekday morning: the honking of anxious drivers, the loud clang of a truck bed swinging open, workers shouting to each other as they load or unload or arrange the contents inside.
On a rainy Saturday, however, there is less need for music to fill the space between my thoughts and all the people rushing by. There are fewer people on the streets; they have decided, perhaps, to wait–“just until it lets up a bit,” maybe, or to stay in for good, leaving the groceries for tomorrow, ordering pizza for dinner, curling on the couch with the books they’ve been trying to finish.
And so, along the Panhandle, what fills my head is the gentle crushing swish of tires on slick roads, the chirping of finches getting to the tasks of their day. For once, the grass is greener on this side, glowing bright under a glaze of wet. The air is thick with the smell of spring: warm rain and blossoms and wet pavement.
Turning onto a quiet street, I hear only the soft, swift slap of my feet, the rustle of raindrops on new spring leaves. On Haight Street–the lower end of Haight, far from that famous intersection where a Ben and Jerry’s now stands–a van is idling, and the smell of bacon frying drifts from a kitchen window. The city is waking up in the cozy, no-rush, soaking-up-a-Saturday-morning way it sometimes does.
Where Hayes St. meets Pierce is the park–Alamo Square Park. From here the peak overlooks a row of impeccably groomed Victorians, accented in pastels, like houses made of gingerbread and piped with perfect icing; behind them, the crowded cityscape, a jumble of buildings, block-edged and gray in the drizzle, with the ridiculous and perfect Transamerica pyramid poking through.
The hill is quiet. Solitary and empty, it feels like a summit.