Amblin' Alameda: The Chill is Here

Amblin' Alameda: The Chill is Here

Morton Chalfy

San Francisco has disappeared! This morning the marine layer - that cloud without lift - hugged the ground and hid the bay, hid the city beyond the bay and hid the mountains beyond the city. The air was chilly in the gray grasp of the fog and all exposed parts of my body were chilled as well. In my case it's the hands and face, particularly the nose. The grayness subdued all colors and suffused the scene with an eery, washed out look quite suitable to the season.

From my point of view it was glorious. Not as stunning as the golden sun in the morning turning Shoreline into a shaft of bright yellow, but in its own way just as arresting. The chilliness of the air especially. It tingles the fingers and pinches the nose and cheeks and reminds me again that I am alive and connected to everything in the universe. It takes an entire universe to produce the sensations, placing the Earth at the correct distance from the Sun, tilting the axis of the Earth to produce the seasons, forming the bay so it holds the fog along the coast and cooling the air overnight to produce the chilly mornings. I know it's not all done with the purpose of connecting me to the world, but that's the end result nevertheless.

To combat the chill I walk faster, marching along with arms swinging by my sides and trying to keep my chin up and my eyes on the horizon when they're not checking the footing before me. The marching warms me up, loosens my muscles, breaks a sweat and induces an outpouring of endorphins to bathe my brain and make me feel extra good about being alive. Being that this is October I rejoice in the months of chilly mornings ahead of us. We spend so much time in our comfortable constructed environments of home, office, automobile and shopping centers that a walk in the chilly air is the least I can do to remember where we came from.

In passing, which is how I noted it, the work to reconstitute the beach with sand dredged from the bay goes on apace. This morning the long, flexible foot-wide pipe snaked up the beach and pumped a slurry of sand and bay water into the ditch dug by a bulldozer. The dozer spent its time shoring up the sides of the pit while a steam shovel heaped other piles to be moved later. A huge undertaking to get us back our washed-away beach.

They're no longer steam shovels, are they? Internal combustion motor shovels? Sounds so unwieldy. Big bucket-on-end-of-hydraulic-arm-shovels? There must be some modern term but I don't know it, so steam shovel will have to do until I learn better. No matter the name, the big machines look more romantic shrouded in fog as well.


Submitted by David Foote (not verified) on Tue, Oct 29, 2013

Try "Excavator" or "Power Shovel"