On Convocation Week Friday, when most of the boisterous events of that week had begun to abate, I was sitting, on Campus, at the café outside Cesar Chavéz Center as usual, sipping my vanilla and hazelnut flavoured afternoon coffee and reading the Daily Californian (the campus newspaper). Nothing special in the paper, since the run-up to the summer session had yet to start, but one article still caught my attention. It dealt with actions that graduates should have undertaken during their stay at UCB and which they should catch up on now, if left undone.
One of these actions entailed to pay homage to Indian Rocks and watch the sunset over Golden Gate there together with one’s college sweetheart. I have to admit that I am sorely lacking the latter, but still, would it not be a good idea to pretend being young again and to undertake the challenge of mounting the rock in question? Said and done! I decided to start the hike this very afternoon around 17 hours, from my apartment at Stuart Street, and counted on arriving at the target point about three hours later, in time for the sunset.
The hike, besides being rather long, is not very difficult to trace. It is just a question of traversing the campus and thereafter following Oxford Street to its bitter end, up North on the Berkeley Hills. It is far from difficult to find the Rocks; Oxford Street ends at its feet, since it cannot proceed through solid stone. The Rocks is actually a harsh promontory on the hills, providing a panoramic view of the Bay, with its two bridges, by now well known to our readers (see “Earth Day à la Berkeley), the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge.
So, having drunk plenty of water to keep me in shape during the journey, off I went from Stuart Street along the lovely small side streets adorning Berkeley South of Campus. When walking along some houses owned by Japanese immigrants, I could not but observe that their gardens differed markedly from those owned by other Americans. Whereas the latter generally favour to leave their garden, more or less, to its own devices, leading to rather uninhibited growth of brushes and flowers along, and all over, the sidewalk, the Japanese tend to keep a tight ship, with short-cut lawn, model-cut trees and flowers rather strictly kept in line and off the “trottoir”.
Highly enlivened by this unexpected pleasure I carried on, as having wings on my feet. To round up this spiritual interlude with yet another outer worldly experience, I made a slight detour to pay homage to an intriguing sculpture situated just on the western border of Campus. It may look to you just like a slightly outsize marble, maltreated by children playing games. In fact, it is a huge globe of solid bronze, almost 3 meters in diameter, delicately balanced on a hardly noticeable base. The students call it jokingly “Luke’s Revenge”, the meaning of which is of course immediately clear to you. It is not? Haven’t you had the patience of enduring the long sequence of Star Wars movies, until finally arriving at Part IV of the series?
In front of me rose a steep incline, part of the pronounced promontory that constitutes Indian Rocks. The ritual involved in paying homage to the Rocks consists of climbing that promontory to the very top, where your sweetheart is sitting, admiring your vigour and rewarding you with an embrace upon your arrival. So far so good! Several forerunners were already on their way to the top, inviting me to follow their lead.
Whilst I was eating, late sunglow gradually receded into bluer tones, and street lights began to sparkle in the mellow evening turning into night. Pondering the day’s events, I was attempting to recollect my early student days, in Vienna, when I was as young as the students I had met on Campus and on the Rocks. Did I have that intensity of feelings back then, which the youngsters nowadays seemed to entertain? I tried in vain, memories were too far gone to permit an even partial recollection. The cells of the body are ever being remade, as do the memories. There was hardly any part of me remaining from those turbulent days of youth. The more reason to savour the events that evolve whilst we are still alive! Recalling an invocation that stems from one of our great poets, I whispered to myself “Verweile doch! Du bist so schön …”, hoping to preserve the magic moments of this trip for evermore.