Sunday, November 1, 2009
Yesterday I had cause to drive through the city on the freeway just after dawn. I don't usually do so - we do get up relatively early, but we don't commute by automobile and indeed don't get anywhere near the built-up parts of the city in an ordinary workday. I live in a city that's been the victim of extremely poor to nonexistent urban planning and incredibly uninspired architecture - we have all the variations of Poured Concrete Slab that you can possibly imagine (one-story shopping center with parking as frontage; two- or three-story walkup apartment building; block-shaped highrise), jammed together with the few wood-frame buildings that have survived the tropical climate and the termites, and the result is unharmonious and inefficient. For such a beautiful place, it can be awfully ugly, nothing gracious or lovely in the built environment, as if nature were the only source of beauty. But bathed in the light of a clear dawn, all the edges and angles of the apartment blocks were sharpened and defined to a shimmering clarity, and every dull concrete surface licked with gold. The sun was behind me and illuminated every surface rising above the elevated roadway, while beyond and below it the sea, still untouched by the light, lay dark and calm in the still morning. The only clouds in the sky were scudding white puffs over the water, distant on the horizon, as yet unlit by the sun, and seeming to move through a separate, predawn world.