From Sea to Shining Sea

I took Shasta out for her walk as usual this morning. This daily ritual is really the most complicated part of my day. Some days I’m able to down a cup of coffee before receiving the imperative stare from her, which means “Let’s go now!” Some days I’m barely able to throw on socks and shoes and public pants (instead of PJs). Poop bag, keys, dog. This is the mantra I repeat each time we go outside to do our duty. Woe be unto us if I forget the keys, with the magic door fob that allows us to re-enter the building. Occasionally, in my morning haze (especially sans coffee) I forget the keys and then Shasta and I are left to stand pitifully outside the building until some other kind soul who lives here enters of exits. It’s embarrassing.

Poop bag, keys, dog. Once she is securely leashed, we head out the door and down the hall to the first stairwell — the most treacherous piece of our journey. The stairs are metal and make terrible hollow screeches as Shasta navigates her way down in the near darkness, dodging her leash, at my heels. (They really should fix that light bulb.) She is a little afraid of these stairs and the unearthly sound they make; sometimes she hesitates at the top. It’s a lot of stairs. But eventually she takes the plunge and clatters hurriedly down.

Safely at the base of the metal mountain, we pass through another door, another short hallway, and one more door before bursting into daylight. In all, that’s four doors.

Now comes the second part of our journey, less treacherous but equally demanding. Through a short causeway, down a few less daunting stairs, and we stand on the sidewalk beside the parked cars. The poop zone is on the opposite side of the busy street. Luckily, morning time, at 6 a.m., there are few cars passing.

“Halt!” I tell Shasta, and she dutifully stops in her tracks.

“Look both ways before crossing the street,” I instruct her. She nods.

This way I look, that way I look. All clear.

“Walk,” I say gently and in tandem, we stride into the street.

Normally, we jaunt across to an appropriate patch of grass (which Shasta locates with her excellent nose) and eliminate. Ahhh. But today, midway across the street, I stopped (which, of course, you should never do, but I did).

San Francisco is a small town on a tiny peninsula of land, laid out on a symmetrical street grid. This makes it easy to get around and sometimes, unexpectantly, affords breathtaking views. Many streets run all the way from one side of the city to the other, from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. The street I live on is one such street.

On this morning, standing in the middle of Post, I looked East and was stunned by the morning sun just rising, silhouetting the downtown buildings, the remnants of mist softening the view of this busy city coming to life. I looked West toward the Pacific Ocean, where the day’s fog was already piling up and pouring over the hill, settling softly on rooftops. I stood in the center of this grand scene for a few moments, looking East and West, savoring. “Come on!” Shasta demanded, and we moved on.

The fog horn blew in the distance as it had blown all night. It was another beautiful day in San Francisco.

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