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Some people would say that nature is the cheapest happy of them all, and some people would say we have treated it as such, and some people would say that we are doomed.

But nature is like going home to a place you didn’t even know you were from, and it’s the most hilarious joke that everyone is in on, and the laughter that it causes is the deepest joy there is. Like reading Bridge to Terabithia in third grade before Mrs. Hodges got cancer, and you are Leslie, brave, scrappy and lifted.

That’s what it’s like to see seals laying on the beach near Point Bonita lighthouse. There are almost 50 of them, and then there’s another trying to get up on a rock. It’s having trouble, climbing up only to slip back into the water, and it seems like it must be a baby until a final heave when it reveals itself as a huge sleek torpedo, and you have to smile because that seal is about as far from a baby as it can get, and you understand that clumsiness is not only for the young.

Sometimes it’s warmer in the Headlands than it is in the city, and sometimes it isn’t, but San Franciscans know more than anyone that summer is not all about the sun. Down at the beach the surfers are learning to get up, and the waves are crashing into the sand and the rocky outcroppings are beckoning. The sand is surprisingly warm and you think that it feels thick, and indeed it’s more like what sand really is than any other sand you have ever seen: tiny smooth rocks, as multi-colored as gemstones at twilight.

Bring a bottle of wine that has a screw top, and some antipasti from a deli, and a book, and a blanket, and someone you like who knows where they are without having to read introductions.

Bring a dog if you must, but know that they don’t understand like you do. How content you are to be staring out at your city glad you aren’t there and glad to go back again later, the alarm clock stopped ringing hours ago, and for a moment you are struck by the thought that eternity is our occupation and life nothing more than a collective dream bookended by night.

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  • somawally

    I wish Beth Spotswood would contact me, so that we could go to the Marin Headlands together. Basket at the ready, Beth, with wine, cheese and crackers.

    Don’t forget the sunblock, though