Winter Thunder

Kage Baker loved the San Francisco Bay. She loved crossing the bridges and looking down over the Golden Gate, the expanse of the Bay and the Pacific beyond it, the white caps and white sails and white birds that stitched across it.

Unless it was raining. Or the wind was up. Or, worst case scenario, a Pacific gale was coming in off the ocean and we were crossing the Bay Bridge. The last time we did that, it was in a VW van that swayed back and forth like a clipper ship. Kage managed a Perfect Act of Contrition for every mile of the Bridge between the Ferry Building and Oakland. She made me swear never to do that again.

Well, the storm is up tonight, as well, and it was either brave the Bridge in the rain or sleep in the Cow Palace. We left after dark, having completed most of our deco in the Green Man Inn; we left a gorgeous Parlour behind us, a Christmas fantasy. We thought the booming noises through the walls were trucks, or power tools … But when we left the shelter of  our private London, we found it was raining like hell.

In the real world, it was a special effects festival. Lightning was flashing in the sky continuously, lighting up San Francisco like a blue-white sun: winter thunder, an old English saying goes, is the world’s wonder – and when it is  illuminating the Bay Bridge in strobed waves, it’s a wonder indeed.

We made it back to Vallejo, my good friend Neassa and I, with no worse effects that getting wet. But 6,000 people or so are without power in the Tenderloin (which sounds romantic but is really, really not) and there’s an urban flood warning here in the Bay Area. And when you consider that most of the place is only a few feet above the sea that pretty much surrounds it, urban flooding can seem a bit more than inconvenient.

I’m grateful to be safe in a friendly house in Vallejo, listening to the thunder boom and the rain pour down and the water rise gently over the curb … we have microwave pizza and Hostess Cup Cakes, and all is right with the world.

Kage would have hated the ride over the roiling bay, but she’d have loved this part. She’d have a glass of Coke and rum and she’d toast every peal of thunder. She’d be telling us stories of pirates rising up from the bottom of San Francisco Bay, storming the rocky edges of Treasure Island to find their way to the darkened – but still enticing – Tenderloin. Booty and beauty and rum, by the powers!

World’s wonder indeed.

Tomorrow: the road back to LA, and a perfect Christmas Parlour