I pushed my bike to the top of the road and then coasted downhill along the north head of the Golden Gate toward Point Bonita. A chill wind cut into my face as the elements told me at once: we were meeting on their terms.
From Point Bonita I looked east toward San Francisco Bay and then west to the panorama of the Pacific, lightly fringed by the rocky outcrop of the Farallon Islands -- reminders of our past. At low tide, 300,000 years ago, I could have walked all the way to the Farallons for there was no San Francisco Bay at that time but a large, tectonic valley, fed by streams and river run-off from the Sierra Nevada.
Earthquakes, eons, ice ages and erosion have created this magnificent waterway, and though the picture may appear perfect, it is far from complete. Primordial forces are constantly at work here, reshaping and reorganizing. Tidal patterns rippling across the surface merely hint at the primitive order which compel their daily swell and ebb. The Carquinez Strait and Golden Gate channel were carved during the last ice age when torrents of glacial run-off cascaded down the Sierras only to be met by the encroaching sea level as it, too, rose with the massive ice-melt.
Today, these combative forces are still at work - river run-off versus ocean surge, tide versus current. At Point Bonita, I recognized this conflict between ocean, land and rivers. Steeped in time, each massively powerful, each prevailing and succumbing with the give and take of nature. And in the conflict lies an indefinable balance.
As I sat on that windy bluff, I recognized the power and the peace and the secrets which penetrate deep into the magma of the Earth.