Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Orange Achievement

Yesterday morning I came across these tall flaming cannas growing up through a chain-link fence next to a gas station in downtown Oakland. The nights are starting to verge toward frost. Many maple trees along the Oakland streets had intense red and yellow leaves. And these canna plants are putting their last reserves of of the season into one desperate last floral demonstration.

Then only a couple of blocks away I stumbled on the scene below, a long narrow creekside park, skillfully planted and maintained in pristine condition. I think nobody is imagining this scene when they think of downtown Oakland.

But my next discovery (below) was more in the nature of a sad spectacle. At first I could not even figure out what possible purpose these rows of concrete columns might have been intended to fulfill.

The mystery resolved itself when I noticed notches at the tops of some of the columns, and realized this was the ruin of a pergola that once included wooden beams and wooden lattice across the top where vines grew (almost certainly wisteria). I got the feeling it was built sometime in the 1940s.

This lion first came to my notice about a year and half ago when I photographed it here. And it did seem more worn yesterday when I took the picture above, but also it seemed less pathetic – more like an accidental piece of disturbing-yet-elegant postmodern (or maybe post-fascist) sculpture.