St. Mary’s Square sounds far grander than it is, which is a patch of grass and a few trees on top of a parking structure in San Francisco. It is a self-described “petite urban haven,” a rhetorical flourish that reminds us of the deceiving power of words. Admittedly, it did offer a space to quickly enjoy a sushirrito (a sushi+burrito concoction) before resuming the day’s adventures, which suggests the entire point. I love that we plant ourselves in the city only to crave nature, so that even a hint of green satisfies.
I am amazed that April has passed and we are one week into May; does time pick up speed as the year progresses? Will I feel summer before the feeling is gone? I have this suspicion that I will wake up to September in what will feel like tomorrow and think, I missed it. Does acknowledging this prevent it from happening? I promise to report back.
Valentine’s Day started with a cup of Japanese green tea called green ecstasy at Samovar. It was my second visit, this time at its location in the Mission. The first time I was at the one in the Castro and had ryokucha, also a Japanese green tea but one that includes toasted brown rice. On that first visit I had sat down with a pot of tea and was still reading Sense and Sensibility. I remember reaching the part when Willoughby abruptly leaves Barton for London, thus abandoning Marianne for good. Elinor’s reaction upon learning that Willoughby is leaving, and her rational analysis of it afterwards, is one of my favorite parts of the book, and a big win for having sense over sensibility.
Samovar in the Mission goes out of its way to make the simple ritual of tea as complicated and tech-chic as possible. The tea leaves are pre-measured in artfully displayed test tubes, and after tapping your order into a tablet, some contraption called a steampunk automatically brews the tea, which is then served in a paper cup. This was all far too much of a spectacle for my taste. There is an effortlessness to tea that I love, and I felt all of the beautiful simplicity was lost. Nevertheless, my cup of green ecstasy was delicious. I picked up a huge coffee habit in the fall, and though I still drink it a couple times a week, I’m returning to tea as the default, which feels like a good thing.
I made three New Year’s resolutions this year: eat less pizza (an inevitable fail), eat less chips (a so-so success), and visit the city more often (a resounding success). San Francisco is a 30-minute train ride from Berkeley, both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge are visible just blocks from my apartment, yet for the better part of 2014, I did not make the trek into the city often. But then 2015 arrived and invited change, and San Francisco has been a delightful addition to my life ever since. Trips into the city now make me feel undeservedly accomplished, as if each is a story in New Year’s resolution success. They have included lounging at Alamo Park, coffee at Sightglass, 2 AM gin and pizza in the Marina, the Redwood Grove at Golden Gate Park, a night of ramen and Intersellar, and another night of spaghetti squash and Finding Vivian Maier, all of which have contributed to a general excitement for what is to come between me and the city.
P.S. It is so fun to discover that many of you are Jane Austen devotees. I am a novice, so I take every recommendation to heart. Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Emma are on the list.