My best friend loves San Francisco. She used to live there, and she misses it every day that she trudges along in the good food desert that is central PA.
I almost made it there! It was a Wednesday morning in Vacaville, CA, during a cool spell. The weather lady on TV looked a little sad as she reported the absolutely balmy forecast temperatures for the week. Instead of 90s and 100s, it was going to feel like 70s and 80s.
If you are not familiar with the landscape in Vacaville, CA, let me fix that. It’s hilly. Not the regular kind of slow rolling hill, but small, human-sized, manageable, round dome hill, covered in golden yellow grasses, which I identified as wild grain, possibly oats, splashed with groupings of green deciduous trees. The chromatic contrast is quite striking. It’s quiet there. You wouldn’t guess that just a few miles away lies a sprawling metropolis full of amazing street food and surrounded by water bridged by this famous red bridge, called erroneously the Golden Gate Bridge. There is nothing yellow about it, not that I checked. I only saw pictures of it.
Back in Vacaville, the bed I slowly sat up in was in a bedroom of a house right on top of one of these golden hills. It reminded me of Tuscany, but without the olive tree rows. Outside large windows I could see other golden hills with other houses perched on top of them, with horses, white fences, and green deciduous trees around them. I could even hear horses and children from two hills away.
San Francisco. Big city. New York, another big city. That fateful morning I drew a parallel between the two, a familiar one and a strange one, and decided, despite the recommendations for food that I had gotten from my best friend the day before, to drive the other way. The tranquility of those hills along with the lack of sleep I had experienced two nights in a row contributed to that decision. I did not have the energy to tackle the metropolis no matter how hungry for good food I was. So instead, I drove to lake Tahoe and walked until the water was knee deep and the light was fading.
The lake was bigger than my mind could comprehend from a single point of view. The water was shallow, so it was fairly warm, with a golden hue. In the distance, the lake turned deep blue for the space of a finger’s width before the mountains crowned the horizon through the haze. I settled for some Asian fusion from across the street. It was good, but not as good as the food in the city could have been, right? The bowl in the bush is always better than the bowl in hand, unfortunately.