I returned to San Francisco from New York last Thursday night. The next morning, what I noticed was the quality of light. I flashed back to my first day in California —in February 1972 — when I had flown from the East Coast to join a wild urban commune. On the bus from SFO to my new home in Oakland, I kept looking around, amazed by how everything looked in the Bay Area light.
The light is hard to describe. A literary person might describe it as pellucid. The defining quality is somewhat fugitive: as you look around, it’s as if a sprite is moving ahead of your glance, leaving a sparkle behind. The light is soft but not lush. It is too clear, too bracing, to be lush. It’s an animating light that pours forth in abundance. Physically, the quality is hard to pin down, but the feeling is one of promise. (How far that feeling carries you is another matter.)