Our troupe (the Traveling Mills-Naim Circus) ended up, somewhat serendipitously, at Coit Tower in San Francisco yesterday. I say "serendipitously" because the way it goes in San Francisco now is that you basically end up visiting whatever area is around the parking spot that you find.
So we ended up on the shoulder of Telegraph Hill & trooped up, as Troupes (& Troops) do. The place was mobbed, which was surprising to me. I mean, Coit Tower is nice, but somewhat quaint as far as local attractions go ... & then I realized, (I had heard rumors of) that we were on one of the highest hills in San Francisco for Fleet Week. Huzzah!
So the kids and I (Barukh was on a phone call just down the hill) watched as three or four fighter planes zipped around the Bay, trailing pinkish, blue and white vapors and doing somersaults, complicated aerial formations and even making vapor shapes like a pink and blue heart with an arrow shot through.
This was followed by some rather large planes performing less complicated maneuvers and then there was a lengthy pause, as we all waited expectantly for the actual Blue Angels--slated to appear at 3.
Well, the Blue Angels came in with a bang, flying quite low and nearly taking out the tower. One came in so low that small children started to cry from the deafening roar, and as the plane pulled up, heading toward the stratosphere, I noticed a small bird struggling to stay aloft in its wake. The bird seemed to have lost all sense of direction, and fluttered about miserably, heading this way and then that, and I worried for its delicate internal mechanisms which seemed to have suffered a terrible shock.
The now famous parrots of Telegraph Hill also appeared disturbed by the commotion and the Tsunami-sized sound waves rolling over the Hill. They fluttered up and down in a flock, seemingly unsure where to be. (Please see "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill," if you have not done so already.) All the birds in the City, I thought, needed tiny little bird ear plugs for this event. Then I spent some time wondering if birds do indeed have ears. (I'm sure they must, to hear each other singing!)
The Blue Angels performed a few tricks and within less than ten minutes it seemed, they were done. The crowd was crestfallen, but accepted their collective fate, and started trickling off down the Hill.
As our Troupe descended the formidable stairs winding down toward North Beach, I felt sure that the reason the Blue Angel show was truncated was because the Navy pilots and their on-the-ground handlers got word that the sensitive birds around Coit Tower were distressed by the displays, and so shut down the whole operation right away.
On a more serious note, my understanding of Fleet Week is that it is sort of a testosterone-driven display of U.S. military might and skill, etc. I mused that the vapor heart was interesting in the midst of all that. And is that a maneuver that Navy pilots might use in the skies of Afghanistan and elsewhere? Creating smoky hearts and peace signs? Hmmmm. Not an entirely bad idea, really, if you think about it. On the other hand, possibly a perfectly horrible idea at this juncture.
The fog was rolling in over the city with all its gray and gusty might, but seemed to leave a pocket of sunshine for us to grab some pretty authentic Italian white bean soup, pasta, and antipasto in the lively neighborhood around Columbus Ave. We then snaked our way over to Portrero Hill for a latte and hot chocolate at Farley's (no whipped cream at Farley's mind you. This place is not frivolous.) I used to hang out at Farley's when I lived on Portrero Hill, and was single and wild, (etc.) Now I was at table with husband and two small children who have become a part of me like new appendages. Amazing! From one to four. How did that happen?
The views of downtown are lovely and sparkly from the Hill. We made a mess at the corner bookstore and then cleaned it up, and our Troupe packed it all in to the very suburban Subaru, having had our fill of the "big, gigantic" City (Alia's description) and sped home to Palo Alto, tired and satisfied.