I Love My Park: November 2007

Welcome to the eleventh installment of "I Love My Park." This monthly column features interviews with people all over the city talking about the personal connections they feel to parks in San Francisco.

Winifred MontgomeryThis month: Winifred Montgomery, photographed on October 13, in Bayview Park.

What is the name of your local park?
Bayview Park.

Why do you love your park?

I love this hilly park for myriad reasons. I love the short walk from my urban front door to the deep woods. I love the buzz of oxygen in my veins as I climb the steep approach. I love how city sounds and smog quickly fall away as I climb into the eucalyptus-scented sky. I love the wildlife that shares this small hill with me: Foxes red and grey, huge owls, several types of hawks, sunning lizards, hummingbirds, laughing crows.

I love how much of a secret this hill is, how beautifully 'unimproved', how friendly its few visitors are; each startled to find another hardy soul circling the peak. I love the little-known views of San Francisco from its southeastern tip; sunset glinting from the far-off mansions in the Oakland Hills, the Golden Gate's towers peeking out from the fog, Sutro towers steadfastly anchoring the city's compass rose. I love my unexpected encounters with the dedicated folks who trudge through the undergrowth; studying rare plants, restoring native species, rooting out the exotics–all heart and no glory. I love how this feral refuge from the city is hidden in one of the poorest neighborhoods we have.

How often do you visit your park?
Several times a week.

What is your favorite activity you do in your park?
My favorite activity is sitting on a worn hand-made wooden bench beneath creaky pines, watching the sunlight scintillate across the south bay beneath the watchful gaze of the hillside hawks.

What changes/improvements would you like to see in your park, if any?
I think that 'improvements' would largely ruin this park, which is a joy very much because of its tangled, overgrown nature. It is supposed to be a challenge to climb the hill! Making it easier would reduce the satisfaction gained by earning its eucalyptus-shaded summit. The ancient stone walls, the small-but-spooky unpruned forests and rotting wooden railings are part of its charm.

Another bench or two would be nice, to give the different directions each their perspectival due, and I have nothing but respect for the volunteers who backwhack wayward undergrowth and lovingly foster new native plants. But this is not meant to be a tailored, tame park: Its feral mystery is half the fun.

To read past "I Love My Park!" columns, click here. If you want to be featured in this column in the future, please email us and tell us all the reasons why you love your park.

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