The Addendum

Alcatraz Avenue and Racine Street

The days and nights have been beautiful of late. We are in transition—all of us, now more so than ever—and what comes next is anyone’s guess. Yet let me repeat this—each morning has been beautiful. Wednesday? A day of purple-haze mountains, deep azure sky, with crisp air and warm sun, as if someone somewhere had flipped the switch marked “Autumn” and there we all were. Thursday was as grand, and Friday started with a gray that was not cold, perhaps in part because of the reddening leaves on the trees across the street from my apartment. These are days made for walking, for parks, for respite. I know it is just my imagination, but I swear that sometimes I can smell burning leaves, woodsmoke, and the sweetness of windfall on the ground, rotting gorgeously in the late season sun.

At night, when I go out, I tend to head eastward, because that is where the nearest stores, restaurants, and coffee shops are. I rarely go west of my apartment, because west of me is that lost portion of Shattuck that hasn’t really been anything since probably the 1920s. It is, however, where my nearest laundry is, and so errands took me there Saturday night. The walk there was in gold, but for the walk back, the sun was gone. Instead, I was greeted by what the French call the “blue hour,” highlighted all the more by a moon nearly full. Below it, in the distance, were the hills of Berkeley and Claremont and Oakland. Although the lights of the houses on those hills glowed, they could not compete with the moon, and the deep inky blue of the night.

Such scenes are in my blood. I grew up in a house that faced east, faced towards a range of low hills that served as the horizon of my life, a foil for the reflection of the setting sun as well as an entrance point for the moon and the sun.

I would like to take comfort in that, comfort in some cliche of the lunar and solar cycles continuing despite what we below do. Yet it is more urgency, not comfort, that I feel. Given my age, my statistical life expectancy, and the average of a full moon every 29.53 days, I will see this sight only 509 more times. (By contrast, according to iTunes I have already listened to Miles Davis and John Coltrane’s Blue In Green 734 times.)

509 more full moons. Give or take. On average. And I want to savor every one of them.


Alcatraz Avenue and Racine Street, Watercolor and gouache on birch plywood panel, 6 in x 8 in, 2016

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