Unknown Berkeley


On a walk yesterday with The Dog, we went up past Codornices Park, up the Tamalpais Steps, all 180-some of them, which reminded me of how long it’s been since I’ve done any real exercise, and then up Tamalpais Road to Shasta Road.

The Dog was a little balky at this point. I had him on the leash, since Shasta is a narrow road with no sidewalks and sharp curves that don’t give much notice of approaching cars. He pulled downhill while I wanted to go up. Right at Tamalpais and Shasta, there’s a paved driveway going up a hillside. I’ve been past the spot dozens of times, but never noticed before today that there was a basketball backboard and a chain-link fence–maybe a little neighborhood park.

I compromised with The Dog, and we headed up the driveway, stepped across the chain that was sagging below knee height across the drive, and up to the fence. It *was* a park of sorts up there, though not a public one. There was a tennis court with broken pavement, the downhill side of the court showing signs of sliding. There was a broken-down backboard, a kid’s bike, and some toys. There were padlocked gates on each side of the court, so there was no way in for me. On the uphill side, a wooden stairway went up to a home perched above the court. (You can see the court here, a Google Maps satellite image of the location).

It’s always been one of the things I’ve liked about Berkeley–as cities go, it’s a small place, but it’s spread over the terrain in a way that’s full of surprises. Other sightings today: a public notice from a writer I remember from Daily Cal days who’s campaigning with her husband to get a couple of big old eucalyptus trees cut down so that they and other residents in the neighborhood “viewshed”–a coinage that has found Orwellian employment in the past and one for which they’ve found a new and equally Orwellian job for–can enjoy a nicer vista from their homes high in the hills.

And a last sighting: The Dog made me stop dead in the road for something he appeared to see, or smell, or sense, high up on a steep vacant lot. It wasn’t until I looked up there for three or four minutes and was about to move on that I realized there were a couple of big deer ears sticking up over the edge of the ridge above. The deer enjoyed his viewshed, unperturbed, and The Dog and I headed downhill.

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