Hello Friends and Family,

Golden Gate Park, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

B. David, draftee: Mizuki was already in Japan and Johnny was to join her after school ended for the summer break. His flight required an overnight layover in San Francisco and I was drafted to accompany him to SFO then get him on his connecting flight to Tokyo the next day. Mission accomplished. I had decided to stay a bit longer to visit familiar places and old friends from my years living in the Bay Area — but such an array of choices.

My first destination was Golden Gate Park. For those of you who are not familiar with San Francisco, this park is huge with many attractions including the Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservatory of Flowers, California Academy of Science (including the Steinhart Aquarium), the De Young Museum of Art, the Strybing Arboretum and more. Since I only had one day to visit, I chose the Japanese Tea Garden as my first stop.

After parking, I was walking to the entrance and encountered this flowering plant that I do not recall ever seeing before. A quick Google search tells me that it is Echium fastuosum or more commonly Pride of Madeira.

The flower head is huge — perhaps three feet tall. Closer examination showed me that it actually consists of hundreds of blue flowers (some varieties produce royal purple flowers). Pretty spectacular. This was a quick reminder that Golden Gate Park itself is beautifully landscaped, not just the named attraction areas.

Just a few steps further and I could see the pagoda and temple gate inside the Japanese Tea Garden itself. It is such a beautiful setting.

These are the reconstructed gates standing on the site of the original ones from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. The reconstruction was completed on September 3, 1985. As you may have guessed, you don't go in here — the current entrance is just a bit farther.

Here is another structure inside the Garden that you can see from the outside sidewalk. It reveals itself to be the current entrance to the garden. Nice.

After paying admission, I'm in. The first thing one sees is this peaceful setting with a tea house to the left and the souvenir shop on the right. (The tea house serves tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks, bottled water, Japanese cookies, tea sandwiches, Kuzomochi (sweet rice cakes), rice crackers and miso soup. The menu expands a bit on weekends.) Also note the variety of colors, shades, and shapes of the vegetation and hardscaping that constitute this tranquil oasis.

This is the same pond as the previous photo but seen from a different vantage point. I was taken by the reflections seen on the surface but which have such depth to them. The leaves floating on the surface reminded me of a Monet painting.

Throughout the garden, one finds stone towers and lanterns adding such character to the natural surroundings. I particularly noticed the moss growing on the stone — which adds such antiquity to the structure.

The gentle noise of water splashing into a trough, fed from a bamboo pipe adds to the serenity that one expects of a Japanese Garden.

In the midst of all the greenery, one finds the occasional splash of color — here a Camellia blossom, perhaps a bit past its prime was still lovely to behold.

A stone lantern stands just outside the gift shop. I wondered if these were ever decorated with candles or other sources of light at night, either here or in Japan.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com