Monday, February 6, 2006

The weather has cleared and I am going to meet one of the locals, with whom I have coffee most mornings, in the city to see the exhibit of old photos from the 1906 earthquake, now showing at SFMoMA. I take the ferry across San Francisco Bay, water glistening, cormorants flying in a low black line next to the boat, and dock at the Embarcadero. Today I do not turn on my computer, look at email, or check my phone machine! Free! Breathing real salt water-tinged air. Exposure to the elements!! How did this get to be a rare occasion in my life? Walking the short distance to the museum, it's hard to believe this city was once razed. The photos are amazing! Here are the first panoramic shots, taken by a wide-angle lens hoisted by balloon over Nob Hill. Where frame houses were, there is NOTHING, just ash with bits of foundation showing. Men are sitting in chairs, wearing bowlers, in the midst of huge piles of rubble and loose bricks. Grinning. Makeshift tents house new restaurants, people document the devastation with their new Kodak Brownie cameras—all the rage then. Women are picnicking with umbrellas. I see that as I am renewing my own mind today, the city grew back amidst a spirit of cheerfulness and industrious collaboration. Ahhh.

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