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April 20, 2011

Blue Lights and Adrenaline

Above: A flowering tree in the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae).

So after work, I walk outside and the wisteria are hanging straight down from the rain. I stop to take some photos of them because, if not now, when?

I climb onto my adrenal-cycle with a camera and a couple of lenses and I begin to prowl around San Francisco. I'm never sure where to go but I'm going somewhere, right? I'm not going to sit at home. Not a chance.

So I'm rolling down somewhere...17th or 18th or so....sort of rolling through the Mission toward the Castro because, let's be honest, if you're looking for flowers and flowering trees, you can't ignore the Castro district.

So I'm rolling around and I see a cop come by. One of those clearly marked black and white units and he gets a good eyeful of the back of my bike and, let's be clear here...there's nothing there. Nada. As in, no plates. I'm free-balling.

So he goes down about a block and I figure he's probably watching to see which way I go, but I go on my way. I'm not living my life for other people. That's not my ticket.

So I keep on rolling and I see this tree blooming like mad with these ridiculous red flowers all over it. Like something out of a dream. Something Dr. Seuss would make up and I stop to get some shots because I don't take much for granted these days.

I don't lump all of the Myrtacaea together like I used to in San Diego. I don't make that mistake any more. I'm out, examining the flowers, the leaves, the bark, and the seed pods.

Now, mind you, so far as I can tell, no one else is doing this, but that's none of my concern. If you're driving through the Garden of Eden, there's no pride in being perfectly ignorant of the flora around you. To my way of thinking, anyhow.

So I pull over to snap some shots of this surreal looking flowering tree and suddenly, here comes that pig. The same one, slipping down an alley and coming out right in front of me and he sees me and turns on his lights. Now, mind you, my bike is parked and I'm off of it, but here he sits, lights flashing, looking right at me.

Those of you that had April 20th as the day I'd get stopped and fined for driving without plates please take one step forward. Now, take one step back. Because he turned left and took off and I never saw him again. And I don't know where he was going but he wasn't after me. Heeeheeee.

And I'm happy to be free of the clutches of the pig and running loose in this mad and beautiful city, but that's the way it is out here. I know you don't believe me, but San Francisco is a wild-west frontier type of mentality where the cops ride two to a car, in fear for their own lives. (In Lima, they ride four to a car). And they're not about to start something over a license plate. That's just not how it is out here. It's not like that. Not that way.

So I continue to wander around the city on the bike. It's sort of misting. Trying to rain. But not bad enough that I put on my Dry Ducks. I think about it a lot though. But never I do. Never I do.

And it's nearly dark when I get off work. There can be no denial of this. It's too dark to be shooting, really, but this is what I have. I crank the ISO up to some ridiculous number to buy myself some daylight at the expense of grainy photos. A deal with the devil. But all I have is a few minutes after work to roll around in the misty Pacific coast and this is this is this. This is this.

I wind around and it's getting darker and wetter and finally I decide I'll go to The Grove and download my photos and collect my thoughts over an Anchor Porter.

And I'm winding down from the hills around Buena Vista and Corona Heights and I roll past this tree with both reddish/orange flowers and white flowers and I'm like.."OK...I'm calling bullsh1t on this one. There's no way one tree could possibly have two completely different flowers on it like that." But it was an illusion. They'd planted a tree and let this vine grow through it. Or, possibly, it was two trees woven together, but it was definitely two completely different species intermingled and I have no doubt they did it on purpose because, well, you should have seen the rest of the place.

My GPS is dead. I've not wired it into my bike yet. Only I attach it and run the batteries down which doesn't take long, apparently. And I end up on Market, but way out near the end where the trolley doesn't go along with Market Street any more. So, it seems safe enough to follow for a block or three. And I'm rolling up to a red light and a bike pulls up beside me and I hear this sickening crunch and I'm thinking. WTF? Seriously. What was that. And, I decide that the noise came from the crankcase of the bike next to me. Like his transmission is seriously screwed. And I'm looking at him with this chick on the back thinking...dude...you need to get that checked out. But now he's looking back. So I look back. And the two cars beside us have wrecked. Like...at a red light...one car ran into the back of another one going about 3 miles and hour and I look at the guy on the bike and I say "Dude...seriously...what the fck?" And we're all laughing. Me and him and the chick on the back of his bike. Like...dude...open your fvcking eyes already.

A woman at work told me about this house for sale in the city for $45M. I tell her I'm going to give them a low-ball offer of $40M and see if they'll take it. So I decide I'll try to find it, but my GPS is dead so I can't find it. I get within a block or three of it, but I dunno. I don't know where it is and it doesn't matter that much anyway. Does it?

The bike could use some work. I've stretched out the chain riding wheelies across the city. Need to tighten the chain. The headlight shines up and about a 45 degree angle like I'm hunting coons. The engine has developed a small oil leak, from where I'm not clear yet. The left rear turn signal sort of droops. The guy had taped it with black tape when I bought it and I missed this fact. Shame on me.

It is ideal transportation in the city, but it's not exactly maintenance free. It needs a little TLC before I make my next trip up to Alaska in August.

Above: Wisteria. Family: Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) is a large family of flowering plants, commonly known as the legume family, pea family, bean family or pulse family.

Update: I now suspect that this mural on Shotwell in the Mission District was painted by Reyes78, author of the "Mispelled" series of letters painted in SF.

Above: Blooms of the Ruby Red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii'). Family: Hippocastanaceae.

Above: Tthe Ruby Red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii'). Family: Hippocastanaceae.

Posted by Rob Kiser on April 20, 2011 at 9:14 PM


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