Holly and I try to get out for a walk at the ocean or a park daily before the afternoon wind comes up in San Francisco. A glance out our western window usually tells us whether the fog is in, but sometimes the gray edge of fog is too low to see from our house, even as high up as we are, just down from Holly Park in Bernal Heights. At summer solstice we never know what the weather will do. The sun almost always wins the battle at Gay Pride, but by the 4th of July, the fog has become a serious contender and regularly smites the most festive of fireworks displays.
The other morning the sun blazed in Bernal and so we planned a trip to Ocean Beach. Then as we drove west, the dreaded fog bank came into view. It’s not that I have anything against fog really. Often it’s a welcome alternative to the heat it displaces. It’s just that on that particular morning I craved sun. What a lucky thing that we could just turn around and drive east to find the weather we wanted!
We decided to visit Bayview Park in the Bayview neighborhood, just a couple of miles away from home. This aptly named hilltop park delivers on its promise.
This hill was once bigger and well rounded until its eastern slope was cut off and dumped into the bay to build the foundation for Candlestick Park, the City’s sports stadium for decades. Now that Candlestick has been demolished, it’s a shame we can’t put the mountain back as it was.
Bayview Park is home to the largest community of Islay cherry trees, or shrubs, of anywhere around. When I learned that the name Islay (also Islais, the name of our local creek) comes from the Ohlone language, I was absolutely delighted. This native plant with shiny holly-like leaves, produces edible fruit, and we could see the green cherries.
At the top of the hill we found volunteers collecting native plant seeds for the Literacy for Environmental Justice program (lejyouth.org). They are the Candlestick Point eco-stewards (yay!).
As we started our walk, we came face to face with an announcement of herbicide application. This disturbed us, as we are among those citizens who object to treatment with toxic pesticides on public lands. The funny thing is that for years when this park was neglected it remained deliciously wild and toxics-free. Our eco-stewards reassured us with Monsanto’s line that within two days the pesticides wear off. They didn’t consider whether any of the native snakes, lizards, insects or birds (now suddenly so revered by Rec and Park) might suffer in the meantime. We made sure not to touch anything on our walk, but we could not stop breathing the air.
By Molly Martin