scooter expedition, Presidio: Goldsworthy’s Wood Line and Spire
Andy Goldsworthy’s art is candy for the eyes and food for the soul. His work makes real the magic that I like to think lives just under the surface of the earth, almost like there’s been a tear in the veneer of “the Normal” and a little magic has erupted from it, from the invisible to the visible.
So, when I read via Matte Gray’s journals the tantalizing first-hand report of a new Goldsworthy art piece under construction here in San Francisco, I had to jump on the scooter and get over to the Presidio to check the site out for myself, with the tantalizing possibility of meeting Goldsworthy himself in the back of my mind. (Gray did, after all.) That didn’t happen, but I did meet the Bird Lady, which was fantastic! And I found two solid bakeries along the way. Yum.
The ride took me very close to a Russian bakery that I’ve been wanting to try for a while, so I took a slight detour to check it out. The name is Cinderella and it’s located at 436 Balboa St (between 5th Ave & 6th Ave). The space is small and wide, with sweet pastries generally on the left and savory on the right. Standouts include gorgeous danishes, hamentashen and other fruit-topped pastries but the distinguishing feature of this place appears to be the savory, especially the extensive variety of piroshki, hand pies sort of like British pasties. I bought a potato piroshki for later that night.
Then, to my surprise, near the intersection of 7th and California, I saw a bakery with a familiar name, similar to that of my scooter. The place was Kaju and I stopped in to check it out. While the interior is rather nondescript, (uninviting in fact) the owner was friendly and a glance at the food suggested an interesting mix of standard coffee and cookies, scones and the like as well as some uniquely Asian offerings. As a sample, I picked up a triangle of sushi-styled rice stuffed with avocado called onigiri. Wrapped, it was the size of a sandwich and an interesting alternative to the same, easy to throw into my backpack. I also got a house-baked organic chocolate chip cookie. The onigiri has the same mouth feel as the sticky rice used for sushi and was tasty and filling, great fuel for the rest of the afternoon. The cookie was the prize, one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve had all year. Nicely chunky, medium sized, crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. There was a ’roundness’ to the flavor that I loved, but which couldn’t quite identify, that made every bite irresistible. . . could there be a secret ingredient in there?
But I was losing the afternoon light by now so I didn’t linger. I started scooting around the edges of the Presidio and first, had to stop at the older Goldsworthy there, the Spire. Seeing it is a spiritual experience for me, a temple among the trees.
I’d found enough information about Wood Line to know that I was fairly close, but I had to travel from the Arguelo Gate (site of the Spire) to the Presidio Gate. I could have walked, it’s about half a mile, but I was losing the light fast by now. Back to the scooter! But not before checking out a beautiful, natural grove of majestic (magical) trees right across the street from the Arguelo Gate.
From here, I followed a winding road to the Presidio Gate and found the Wood Line immediately. Or rather, the sign for it. The installation wasn’t apparent until I got off the scooter and went over to the sign and, from that vantage point, saw a gap in the forest dead ahead along a single sight line.
Felled timber creates a lovely, snaking curve on the forest floor, with the trees reaching upward on both sides like the support columns of a gothic cathedral. It’s a spiritual place. It’s ephemeral, too. The forest will reclaim the wood through natural decay in about 25 years or so. . .
And I almost forgot, while I was enjoying the Wood Line, a woman offered to take my picture in front of it on my scooter. We started to chat and I soon realized the woman was more fairy than person. Her questions were punctuated by her quick looks up to the treetops, and the occasional bird call. She explained she’s a birder, and visits and follows the birds of the Presidio daily. Or, they visit and follow her. She talks to them. They talk to her. And as fast as she appeared she vanished; she heard the tweet of a bird and with that, had to go. She danced-skipped-floated away, down the dirt path into the forest, and was gone! The light was nearly gone, too, so with that, I mounted Kaiju and . . . vanished.