Yesterday, Jeff and I wandered as if in a dream, just a few short blocks from our house in the Lower Haight. At the increasingly posh and polished Hayes Valley neighborhood, he stood in line at the outdoor Ritual kiosk for coffee, while I momentarily considered a beverage from a juice truck…but then passed after almost passing out from the $10 price. We let Fern clamber around on the play structure at Patricia’s Green, surrounded by affluent parents eating half scoops of ice cream that cost half a days salary. A young couple took a selfie with their cones while sitting on an adjacent bench, then began eating. At their feet, a group of hungry beggars, house sparrows, fluttered around, hopefully eyeing the waffle cones with pleading chirps. The couple ignored them…until the small end of the man’s cone fell on the ground. Triumphant, a little sparrow picked it up and flew a few feet away to enjoy a meal. The man stood up, walked over to the sparrow, picked up the end of the cone and…threw it in the trash.
Where’s your iPhone now, dude? Missed opportunity for a Cute Overload photo post to Facebook if you ask me. Let them eat cake.
Don’t feed the birds. You’ll see the signs posted all over the city. Sometimes I’m in accordance, since providing a food source where there is otherwise none can mean a boost in animal populations that has no ecological support in an urban environment. However, the interplay of human activity and the species it supports is already in effect…garbage cans and rats, indoor kitchens and cockroaches, outdoor cafes and pigeons. They are here and so are we. I used to carry a small bag of millet in my purse, an offering for the little life forms that share our city streets…an opportunity to alleviate suffering, even if only one meal, even if for only a 1/4 of a day.
On Saturday, we partook in a historical tradition of feeding the wildlife. We finally found a use for all the heels of sprouted wheat bread* in our freezer…pleasing the ducks on Stow Lake.
Man made in 1893, Stow Lake was initially only supposed to be a reservoir for the rest of the park. I’m not sure how the decision to add the bridges and boat rentals came to be, but given the Victorian love for little nature outings, and a city just coming into its own, I assume a small money making venture was wisely foreseen.
Lucky for us (and for the birds), a little row boat on a sunny Saturday is one of the best excursions in GG Park.
I’m quite proud of my rowing technique, perfected from childhood. However, now that I’m a big girl…I don’t know what to do with my stems! How am I supposed to get leverage? I settled for half crossed…and half awkward.
While looking up history of Stow Lake, I discovered tales of The Ghost that haunts the shore…a young woman in white, looking for her babe that drowned in the waters. Now I want to go back at night!
*It’s not a good idea to feed bread to wildlife…especially not bread made with refined (white) flour. We chose to use bread of a lesser evil…sprouted wheat. Given that the birds at Stow Lake are fed all kinds of crap, I figured that our hippy bread would be an improvement.
Feed the birds, feed your soul.