Walking up the wrong face of Grand View Park. Logs were placed here to step the trail, but inattention and erosion have pushed them around, forming terraces out of which flowers grow, and the path now running alongside this impromptu garden is just sand and loose rock. The path glitters in the sun (it’s 1:00 PM). Some of the shine is silica in the sand and stone; most of it is glass from broken beer bottles. Parks are imagined as a respite from the city that surrounds them, but the city always finds its way in.

Grand View Park

Grand View Park is basically grass and trees grown over a sand dune, which is piled up over a big rock, which sticks out of the top of a hill. The view for which the park is named shows off the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the ocean. For some reason, I have to climb up to a spot like this to remind myself that San Francisco is enveloped by water on three sides. The city covers itself so thoroughly that it becomes easy to imagine the whole world as buildings with a sprinkling of parks, and that the only water to be had comes out of a tap. Sometimes you get lost wandering around the park and forget that you’re surrounded by the city; sometimes you get lost wandering around the city and forget that you’re surrounded by more.

Grand View Park