San Francisco is a big bundle of weather at the moment. I mean, its usually a changeable place – you cant depend on it for more than a couple of days (or a couple of hours, depending on the season), but what people dont talk about quite so much is how you cant trust it to stay constant for a couple of blocks, sometimes.
I love it.
For some nights in the last few weeks, though, on and off, we have been being kept company by the foghorns at the Golden Gate Bridge. And during the day too, sometimes, when Ive been sitting and sunning myself at my writing desk, by the open window. Suddenly Ill hear a long, resonant low noise. Rarely, my chair might even be gently vibrated by its pervasive soundwave. And so Ill check with My Beloved on what he thinks its source might have been.
And yes, increasingly, it turns out NOT to have been him farting, but instead the noise of the foghorns guiding ships through The Notoriously Greyed-up Passage (NB: Not a euphemism, or a title for an OAP pr0n flick. Though possibly it should be)
It never ceases to stun me, though. I cant imagine how loud it must be to live by the bastards, because were between five and six miles, as the crow flies, and I can still hear them as clear and loud and sonorous and resonant as, say, the low notes of a cathedral organ, the north atlantic wind in Fingals Cave on Staffa, or My Beloved during a post-Mission-Super-Burrito nap (one of the top ten kinds of nap, by the way. ill catalogue the rest another time).
PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRPThey go. At a level, from here, that is just like you having left your phone somewhere in the flat, but on vibrate. And you kill yourself trying to find it before you realise what it is.
PAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRPIt is a fog horn five or six miles away.
Call me London (I am) but I consider being able to hear something that far away crazy. My Beloved apparently does too – tonight we had this conversation, which was just ridiculous. Well, and badly thought through
Him: Did you hear that?
Him: That NOISE?
Oh, the fog horns? Yes, they were going off all last night as well.
Him: Its amazing they can be heard this far away, dont you think?
me: I do, but.
Him: OOOH, did you hear THAT one?!
me: I have been figuring out the Sighyentz of how why this has been happening.
Him: Oh god.
me: Shut up, I am good at the sighyentz. Anyway, I have decided that it works because it gets carried by the fog, and by the sound molecule in each water droplet bouncing off the sound molecule in the next fog droplet.
Him: Im not sure that is very good sighyentz
me: Makes sense to me. It is noise, carried by fog.
Him: Nono, I think the opposite must happen. I think heavy fog would dull noises a great deal.
Him: Yes. . . Unless, of course, they were at a particular resonation thing.
me: Yes. Because . OH WAIT!
me: Ive just realised what foghorns might be for! It would be GOOD if foghorns made noise through fog for quite a distance, in order to WARN things that are some distance AWAY about FOG!
It was a breakthrough for me that they might make it sonorous at this length on purpose.
A breakthrough for me. Although not, I believe, for sighyentz. Who have been looking in to the important matter of whether Ive left my phone on vibrate in the kitchen for a lot longer than I have.
I love this city.
Ive talked about it before here, about the week we arrived, and, invited to a party on the other side of the city (and its not a very big city, about 7 miles wide), set off from our house in the skimpiest of summer wear, knowing it was on the beach and it was already boiling – sun, scorching – at our house. We got on one Muni (tram) that happened to go all the way from one place to the other, with just a little bit of a walk at the end.
40 minutes later, at the beach, we stepped off the tram. Visibility was at about 30 feet. It was mizzling, purposefully. People around us were wearing not only hooded parkas, but jumpers underneath them. And opaque tights. And winter boots. Dogs were wearing raincoats and mocking us, caninically. I saw at least one person wearing a hat made out of a dead animal to protect them from the cold (or it could have been the voices, you never know here). I even saw one person walking through the fog toward me wearing a wetsuit, which I thought was a slight over-reaction to atmospheric pressure. Until I realised that he may just have been surfing. To be honest, the nine-foot surfboard under his arm should have been a bit of a hint.
We arrived at out party, soaked through and shivering, having made the faux pas of wearing summer clothes in winter, just because we hadnt realised that sometimes, if you pick the right city and have the audacity to cross the bloody thing, both can happen all at once. We were new.
Since then, I have learnt, by the way. I wear at least three layers at all times. On days when its changeable and Im planning to visit several weather-forecast-resistant areas of the city, Ive been known to wear nine. Four of them cardigans.
Quite often when people ask me if Ive lost weight, its because we took a taxi to their house and theyve never seen me with so few damned clothes on before.
Over the last few days, the changableness has been particularly stunning.
On Saturday, the weather was beautiful, and we walked from our house over to the Bay Area Classic Yo-Yo Championships in Golden Gate Park – the biggest one in the city; our Hyde Park (or Central Park, or Mont Royale, or The Machair, or Heaton Park, depending on where youre from. Im London-born, so allow me my comparisons). We got burnt. To a crisp. But on the way, we walked over the biggest hills in the city, and we could see 30 miles away, to mountains weve been meaning to camp in and towns wed never been able to see from there before.
On Sunday, we took a blanket and books and some bread and went to sit in our biggest local park. This was nice, we thought. So we decided that on Bank Holiday Monday – sorry, Memorial Day Monday – we should summon people to the much bigger, flatter and less naked-hipsters and drug-muffins-seller-infested park (there are children in our party)(And Im scared of naked hipsters), and there have a picnic.
On Monday, we looked out of our (east/north-facing) windows, saw the same unquenchable sunshine and declared the picnic ON. And then we left the house and saw that, to the north, over the hill where the picnic was due to happen, the cloud was creeping, wet and heavy across the tops with an air I can only describe as: Menacing (For Air).
It was ok, I mean, wed summoned people, and so we went (once My Beloved had, possibly, laced my on-the-bus muffin with the smiliest kind of sedative), and had a marvellous time in the overcast, lovely park. Got burnt, again, obviously. The sun is MEAN through fog – you know that?
We are still a bit new.