"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fort Mason Park: a magical tree and blooming flowers

Just south and east of Fort Mason is a park with a magical tree in its center—the tree’s wood is gnarled and pitted, the branches blown into arcs that touch their leaves to the grass. There’s something about this tree capable of drawing children into its branches where they discover something that looks like a bed, or a table, or a bench, all the while getting a view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. See for yourself.

Although this park is mostly rolling, grassy fields, wildflowers bloom this time of year. The grass is studded with galaxies of bright yellow oxalis (sour grass) and white daisies. The southwestern-most edge of the park has huge, blooming bushes of blue-colored ceanothus flowers and lavender-colored butterfly sage, fragrant and buzzing with pollinating bees. Ceanothus, by the way, is a California native that the Miwok people drank as a tea during childbirth (more details here).

Baby and Kid Notes

This is the kind of park that’s perfect for sunning babies’ bottoms on a warm day. An enormous statue of a woman and her child seems to watch over the whole park and lend a particularly child-friendly atmosphere. There’s a public restroom, next to a cordoned off area where native plants are blooming. The three-year-old who accompanied me on the discovery of this park ruefully noted there were no playgrounds here (although she happily clambered all over the “magic” tree).
Other Details

A long staircase in the northwest corner of the park leads to Fort Mason, where there’re often festivities during the weekend (like the Young Performer’s Theater doing a version of Willy Wonka through March 28), as well as weekly classes for kids and adult (i.e. art, music, tai chi, theater). See Fort Mason’s website for all the details.

From the northeast section of the park, it’s a short walk to Aquatic Park where there’s a stretch of sand to play in, visit Ghirardelli Square for free chocolate samples, or go the mile to lollygag at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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