Despite (or perhaps because of) all the various options open to us in San Francisco this weekend, Hope and I headed down to Fort Funston on Sunday for walkies on the beach with her dog.
The beach is bordered by steep cliffs, popular with hang gliders and red-tailed hawks. Sand streaches on for miles, bounded by shining sea and veiny rock, frolicky dogs and their sea-contemplative humans as far as the eye can see.
Halfway through our walk, we joined a cluster of dog walkers and baby toters who had stopped to peer at the cliff face above them. A man and his dog were clinging to a ledge more than three quarters up, the dog having apparently fallen from the path above. Now both were struggling against the sandy rock, the man pushing and the dog scrabbling, every inch of progress sending tumbles of pebble and rock down the side of the cliff.
Watching the man and his dog struggling in the hot sun, unable to do anything except watch and pray, I said to Hope, "I bet he's never felt more alone in his life."
Hope squinted up. "Or maybe he's never felt more alive."
And we watched until the man and his pushed their way to the very top and, the path beneath their feet again, bounded away.