I was ready today with my camera for the hawk which passes by between three and three forty in the afternoon. Today was the first time it didn’t appear. I was planning to photograph it for my painting, a quick sketch as well. But it never appeared. Which set me to wondering whether it had caught something earlier in the day. Or maybe it’s daily swing through this neighborhood on its north-south patrol isn’t as regular as I’d assumed.
I’m standing on the edge of a slope, almost a cliff. A dirt trail meanders steeply from the foreground. It is interrupted as the hill turns down, but its movement is picked up by a small segment of paved street that rises toward the foot of the bridge. I’m looking across a corner of the bay towards Mt Tamalpais - The ‘Sleeping Lady’ , as two neighbors referred to it while they were talking to me the other day. In the middle distance beyond the tawny slopes and roofs of a few homes there is the narrow, extended line of a jetty that carries oil across the water to pipes on the hill. Which feed it into rust colored tanks. The tanks harmonize well with the color of the landscape. Floating at the end of the jetty are two or, sometimes, three oil tankers. This is the scene through which the hawk passes between 3 and 3:40 PM everyday. Or so I thought.
I consider the paradox of the lovely landscape, California golden, receiving an infusion of the black gold that powers our world. The energy that carried me here today, that enabled these houses to be built and supplied with gas and electricity, if only it didn’t have such a huge downside.
The hawk, which usually passes, ignores homes and roads and our arbitrary boundaries. Its senses are fixed upon the contours of the land which determine the updrafts. It rides these in search of its prey. It feels in its bones what we have trouble comprehending: that air envelopes this planet. The toxic effluence which Chevron pours into the air does not stop at the boundaries of the city of Richmond. During calm days it gathers above the San Francisco Bay. So why does one small city whose council is easily manipulated by the giant Chevron Corporation exercise jurisdiction over the health and well being of the Bay Area?