I am atop Windy Hill on my first visit in the year 2000. It is late April, and the grass around me is nearly a foot tall, very soft and wonderfully green. Most of the weeds are still hospitable to brush against, the ticks are not out yet in force and flowers are still in bloom. Most nearby flowers are mustard plants lofting tiny chartreuse yellow blossoms on stalks a foot or two high. A few tiny purple flowers are seen here and there, and large orange dabs of the partly open California Poppies sparsely highlight the greenery, otherwise the tall grass and weeds completely cover the rolling hills.
Black bees hover over the flowers,
and a pair of small butterflies try to circle each other. A monarch
butterfly alights on the bare ground, it's orange and black patterns
brazenly standing out from the background. A light breeze softly
stirs the tips of the grass blades into just enough movement to
emphasize the feeling of life around me. A shiny orange ladybug
climbs up and down the green grass blades. At the very summit
of Windy Hill the lush carpet gives way to a dirt foundation,
firmly packed and still bearing the remnants of the cracks in
the dried muds left over from the last rains. Along the boundaries
of the bare patch surrounding the concrete pedestal for the metal
Geodetic Survey marker are dandelion plants bearing soft yellow-green
oval masses a quarter inch wide which a few weeks ago supported
yellow flower petals.
Little of the sounds of civilization reach me here, occasionally a car passes by, the interaction of the road with the tires causing more noise than the engines. A small airplane's droning occassionally comes and goes, and faraway dogs bark in farms tucked away in the misty emerald wonderland below.
Looking towards the sunlight I see every
bunch of grass as a brilliant green outline enclosing a dark shaded
core, looking like a series of bunched tiny bushes rather than
an overgrown lawn cover. A little further away the yellow flowers
adorn the nearest rise, supporting thin strands of spider webs
between them like wires between telephone poles. Shiny highlights
move along the air currents in soft ripples, revealing only part
of the webbing at any one time. The slight breeze brings them
into visibility through thin reflections in which intermittant
spectral colors are glimpsed. Many small hovering insects dive
in and out of the flowers, all standing out brightly from the
darker shaded sides of the hills beyond.
Once in a while people walk by, most are athletic types making their rounds but sometimes people visit the top who, like me, simply enjoy the surroundings. One couple seems eager to spend time talking about God. I point out the gossamer rainbow threads of the spider webs against the sun and they react with delight once they see the colors.
Steadily the sun eases down, and the lighting around me becomes slightly yellower and increasingly contrasty with the lengthening shadows.
More time has passed, and little more than golden green outlines separate the dark masses of the sun ward hills from the sky. Golden mist fills the vastness near the blazing yellow Sun, and the serrated tree lined ridge below it radiates a soft fan of shadows across the luminance below. To the west and south ridge after ridge of lush hills in dozens of distinct steps of brightness become lighter and closer to the pale blue gray sky as they near the horizon. Beyond the hills the smooth shiny ocean itself stretches out to define the ultimate distant horizon. the white haze just above the water gives the ocean a silvery haziness. The faintest tufts of fog are forming here and there against the sky near the horizon, like wind torn shreds of the flimsiest dark cotton. The sky is a medium gray just above the bright misty ocean horizon but clear and blue farther above. The tree covered ridges to the East wear fading strips of reddened sunlight along their tops, with an especially brighter zone defining the anti-solar point where my shadow would fall on the distant hills. The sun itself dissappears behind a nearby hill this time of year. The entire South bay stretches out before me and awaits the coming of night. As the lights begin to assert themselves along the San Francisco mid-peninsula region I put away my cameras, pack up the laptop I used to compose these words on, and realize as I wind down the path to the car that I nearly got sunburned up there.
Late April 2000