Saturday, November 3, 2007


Photo by grandson Byron Shock
several weeks after midsummer's
maximum light show.

MIRROR MIRROR (Sunday Scribbling prompt:"Money")

This morning I awoke with the rising sun just as it struck a building across the bay in such a way that it sent a blaze of reflection to my bedroom, almost like a bright message from a San Francisco window to my Berkeley one. For a few minutes it was a brilliant diamond.
My husband still slept peacefully . Knowing that the phenomenon would probably recur for several days, barring rain or fog, I didn’t waken him. Besides, bright as it was, it could not compete with our annual midsummer show.

Starting on about the fifteenth of June at about five minutes before eight o’clock in the evening, the setting sun hits the windows on one of the slanting sides of San Francisco’s Transamerica pyramid at an angle that shoots the light directly to us. The first night it is impressive but affects only a few of the pyramid’s windows, making them sparkle and glint. Then, night by night, it changes, light moving down from the spire to encompass more windows until, at the height of its brilliance, the pyramid becomes a molten pillar of fire, too bright to look at directly, brighter by far than any sight we have seen save for the sun itself. The triangular shape of the tower is lost in the swell of flame.

Each night the show lasts for about ten minutes from first gleam until the last window winks back to darkness, the peak of brightness being at eight o’clock. So too does the yearly spectacle arrange itself symetrically about midsummer. By July we no longer invite our friends to come see “our” Transamerica pyramid.

But by what stretch of the imagination can we call it “our” Transamerica pyramid? We own no part of this temple to wealth. Nor do we wish to. As former workers with homeless poeple, we are all too aware that, in the shadow of this impressive edifice, desperate folk seek a sheltered spot to sleep in doorways and alleys, their meager possessions heaped protectively beside them. We are reminded of what we consider to be one of America’s troubling problems, one that becomes constatly more acute. It is the growing disparity between the rich and the poor.

I would like to call to the attention of anyone visiting my blog the latest issue of National Geographic and the article(s) about the Mayan civilization. One of the main reasons for the collapse of this complex society was that it had become top-heavy, with the privileged demanding more and more.

Is that where America is heading?

Still, I shouldn't be too hard on the Transamerica pyramid. Not only is it a symbol of wealth: it is also the donor of a midsummer gift of pure molten gold.


Bonggamom said...

That is such a wonderfully descriptive post! I live in Palo Alto and never really thought that the Transamerica Pyramid could put on such a "show". You must have a lovely view of the SF Skyline.

nonizamboni said...

Thanks for sharing such an interesting phenomenon. Your astute connection of wealth vs. homelessness was sobering and so well written. I do enjoy your writing and am glad we can see more of it all the time.

Marianne said...

Indeed, what a view!
Thank you for yet another thought provoking post... and yes, I've often wondered if the US was headed that way and I DO believe it is. I also realize that if everyone in the US were to live like Bobby and I do, buying very little outside food... and paying utilities.. and ok, I DO purchase a bit of yarn occasionally but I also know it's nothing like it 'could' be... anyway, I suspect 'all hell would break loose' But it's crazy! all the 'stuff' out there, ack.