Except for San Francisco, my current hometown of Berkeley is probably the northern hemisphere’s coldest place on July mornings. The wet fog crawls through the Golden Gate and finds a convenient resting place in the Berkeley hills. Three miles south, Oakland is sunny and warm.
The Bulb must be the most idiosyncratic 33 acres in the Bay Area. Over the years, the it has been a landfill, a homeless encampment, and an art installation. Today, it’s a park, an art installation, and an encampment for 177 species of birds.
The Bulb is one of my favorite places for hiking on these July mornings. Rugged pathways meander up and down unpredictably through coastal live oaks, yellow fennel and red valerian, which host hundreds of graffiti and driftwood projects. Most are spray-painted on concrete slabs that were dumped here 50-100 years ago. The graffiti is mostly simple. A smiley face. Some hearts. Words that look like tagging. Some of the graffiti is political and obviously recent, with references to Black Lives Matter. A flag is planted in a pile of rubble announcing liberation. A group of young men are painting cement slabs with the faces of those who have died from police violence.
We stop to enjoy the priceless views of the expanse between Marin County and the Bay Bridge. Wind surfers swoop with the seagulls just beyond jagged outcroppings.
The Bulb has its own Statue of Liberty. It has a tree swing, a wooden wind sock, and a labyrinth. On these July mornings, it has a lot of fog.
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the Universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
— Joseph Campbell