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2023 - at the Golden Gate



The Golden Gate, an appropriate name for the 1 mile long strait that connects Marin and San Francisco, is really just the deep mouth of a concavity in the geography of the California coast. Through its mouth the great Pacific Ocean and all of its consequences pour into the concavity, mixing and fusing with the long-traveled, mountain-born rivers of snow melt and rain. At the Golden Gate, the untamed, expansive, daunting, and (somehow at the same time) peaceful ocean not only meets but rolls, tumbles and knocks into bluffs, beaches, and rocks over and over and over again.

Down by the confluence of the pacific there is an ever-changing pile of rocks, some small enough to be called sand and some on their way to having that privilege. Mussels, barnacles, seaweed, anemones and the occasional crustacean call these rocks their home and live at the whim of the currents, tides and musings of the ocean. Strikingly similar to us, some like to hide in the dark, small cracks that are too deep for anyone to reach into, while others are more extroverted and expose themselves to it all. It's unclear if they care about the sun or the lack thereof.

Being the opportunist it is, the fog seems to lock into its 1 mile wide target from the edges of the see-able horizon. The sea of slightly warmer water molecules floating above the sea of slightly colder water molecules is sucked through the mouth of the Golden Gate with an awe-inspiring velocity. A clear day of sun-basking quickly becomes a desperate struggle for warmth as the low-flying clouds engulf everything in their path.

Just as quickly as it appears, the blanket of moisture is lifted by the almost-crescendoing sun. Most of the relatively warm water molecules become too warm to stay together and disperse, but some are gratefully collected by the plethora of plant life. Bushes too many to name, the sparse and squat oak trees sprawling as they please, flowers of every color, shape and size beginning the yearly cycle of generation.


As the sun continues it's reliable trajectory towards the end of the earth, the backlit horizon - where sky becomes sea - is an untangleable mixture of yellow, blue, and white. The air above is almost never perfectly clear even when it appears so as the afternoon light at the Golden Gate falls softly through the still-developing haze of impending fog (it's coming!) On a lucky day, the sun sets twice. On these days, where sky becomes sea (the horizon) starts to develop a thick, mountainous layer of clouds that lifts the edges of the earth like a 3 inch stiletto. The first sunset begins, and the sun is briefly, prematurely gone. The rarer, second disappearance only is possible if an opening appears at the base of the mountain-cloud, letting the glowing ball of fire poke it's head out for a final, final farewell - until tomorrow.

To call the Golden Gate a pristine natural area, however, would be to do a disservice to the word "pristine". Invasive species - like the devastatingly intriguing eucalyptus and the useful-for-humans sea fig - have made significant moves in their attempt to survive. At times the abrasive sounds of engines mix with the melodic waves crashing on the shore and the multilingual mass of tourists excitedly pointing and enjoying themselves makes the view of the ocean feel slightly Disneylandesque.

But I have no right to complain. My apartment (and the entire "Baker Beach Apartments" complex) that looks onto the Pacific and sits atop a mixture of sand and rock, creates a black mark on the landscape. Apartments mean infrastructure: roads, electricity, water, cars, amazon packages, etc. It's not worth blaming myself for the reality of the world, but it's important to acknowledge my role in it all. I get to enjoy living in a place that makes me feel full, happy and connected to nature; nature gets....

...if I am honest with myself, not a lot. Nature does not need attention or appreciation like we do, but as a flawed human being that has become my main attempt at a form of redemption. Photographs are one thing, but the most important part of this story is the love, beauty, appreciation, awe and wonder that nature can give us. Once accepted, it feels important to share with other lest it becomes a vain and selfish hoarding. All photographers have their distinct, often contradictory motivations for why they do what they do, and I am no exception. Thank you for accepting what I share to whatever degree you can.

The majority of the photos below were taken within 1 mile of my apartment. Some were taken on the other side of the concavity, in Marin.

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