Walking to Kite Hill Open Space, one of my favorite places in San Francisco, I’m struck (again) by how quickly the summer flies by. How could it be that the leaves are changing already? The fiery red of maples in the neighborhood is already peeking out and showing itself. I say this every year, as the seasons pass even faster then I can make a dent in all the things I want to do.
Close to the Noe Valley, Castro, Upper Market, and Portola neighborhoods, Kite Hill is small, rather hidden, and a treasure. The views – nearly 360 degrees – are incomparable. Dog-lovers often frequent the hill.
Today I’ve come upon a fallen cedar or cypress tree, blown down by the hill’s relentless gales. My father used to teach me about the trees and wild grasses that grew in the natural areas where we hiked when I was a child. He died suddenly, of a heart attack, when I was still a teenager, leaving me with a deep sense of unfinished business, as well as of longing and grief. His Norse background, like many cultures, incorporated nature into its mythology, in which Yggdrasil was the mammoth tree around which all the worlds existed. In certain Tarot decks, the card of The Hanged Man depicts a man – the god Odin in some interpretations – hanging upside down from a tree. The card symbolizes complete surrender and sacrifice, in order to gain life’s wisdom. What did Odin learn from the World Tree? What could I learn from this mighty tree, once so sturdy in the ground, now fallen as everything is destined to do? The wind soughs differently through the pines, eucalyptus, and other evergreens, shaking their boughs with a terrifying violence. Standing up there alone, face into the wind, just briefly I am deceived into the sense that I can do anything.