If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Here are a few pictures taken on a solitaire sundown stroll through Wildcat Canyon Park near Berkeley, CA. Despite the park’s proximity to the populous metropolitan hives and suburban hubs in the Bay Area, the only other animals I saw on this hike were cows, vultures, wild turkeys, and quail. The park trails are lined by magenta thistle and the slopes of the chocolate hills are covered in tall grasses and dotted by yellow and red wildflowers. Looking west from a hilltop one can see the distant Golden Gate Bridge which spans the mouth of the San Francisco Bay and connects that electric city to the North Bay where the prevailing rising landscape feature there is the formidable Mount Tamalpias. Mount Tamalpias is situated on the Pacific Plate side of the San Andreas Fault, the tectonic boundary of which divides the Pacific and the North American continental plates, the latter of which Wildcat Canyon is located upon. The North Bay is linked by the Richmond Bridge to the East Bay which, at dusk, is sprawled out before you like a giant circuit board glowing with artificial lights beaming beneath the setting sun. The most noticeable manmade feature observable in the immediate East Bay is associated with the steam rising up from the cooling towers of the Chevron Richmond Refinery, which is probably located a little too close to the San Andreas Fault Line.
At the bottom of Wildcat Canyon lie freeways, streets, and parking lots overflowing with cars driven by people whom, like myself, are buzzing across the surface of Earth like frenzied and bloated microbes in a globulous petri dish that becomes ever more polluted and populated with each passing day. The East Bay cities and towns have swallowed up much of the marshland of the bay, and obscene housing tracts are stacked throughout the hills and valleys. Further east, in the dry hills of Contra Costa County, bulldozers are tearing apart the grasslands to make way for monstrous suburban housing developments and soulless strip malls, further guaranteeing an intensified stress on water resources in a state that has just experienced it’s most severe drought in 500 years. These houses will be filled with people whom, not unlike myself, unnecessarily consume vast amounts of resources and energy for mindless purposes. These houses will be tiled and carpeted, air-conditioned and insulated, furnished with smart refrigerators and freshwater toilets, and connected 24/7 to the worldwide web thereby in effect eliminating the need for residents to ever leave the comfort of their sterile homes to enjoy the natural world, which they may instead experience through virtual reality. They will read few books and watch copious amounts television. They will take fewer walks at dusk to view the bloodred sun and glorious bay, the lenticular clouds and evening stars, the ancient mountains and full moons tugging at the ocean – incredible geologic and astronomical events which eclipse our lives, civilization, and history itself. We think we are unstoppable. We take more than we need (unlike all other animals which are born and die naked) and feel that we are entitled to it all, and because of this insatiable greed we are doomed. And perhaps rightly so. As much as I want us (me, my family, and posterity) to stay, I look around and see the way we are mistreating this planet, at the way we disrespect all forms of life (ourselves included) inhabiting Earth, and I can't help but wonder: wouldn't the natural world be better off humans closed-up shop (shutting down the nuclear power plants, dismantling nuclear weapons) and died? I don't want that happen, but sometimes I wonder...