Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lions in the Richmond District

Ace and I were on our way to a hobby store on Geary when we spotted what we thought were Chinese dragons in the Richmond District. We hopped off the 32 Clement to see what was going on.

Members of the West Coast Lion Dance Troupe were entering all the Asian stores on the block and performing for the people inside. Four men on a truck beat a giant drum and clashed symbols as the lion dancers pawed the ground, stood tall and then crouched low, cocked their heads to one side, and made other charming cat-like movements for the storeowners and patrons.

In some doorways, a troupe member set off a string of firecrackers, exciting the passersby.

We saw one delighted storekeeper put money into a lion's mouth. But whether or not they were paid, the lions performed a dance for every friendly store on the block before taking off their heavy heads and walking on to the next gig.

Their website says the West Coast Lion Dance Troupe has won multiple awards and is devoted to keeping the traditional dance alive. I expect we'll see the lion dancers again when they perform in the Chinese New Year's parade. This Year of the Dragon began Jan. 23, but the parade--called the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia, one of the few remaining night-illuminated parades in this country, and one of the top 10 parades in the world--is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11, at 5:15 pm in my neighborhood--just one more reason I'm glad we moved to North Beach. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chinese New Year Flower Fair

Chinese New Year's Day isn't until Monday, January 23 (lunar year 4710), but Grant Avenue was wall-to-wall people last weekend for the Chinese New Year Flower Fair. Ace and I were on our way to the Mission District to meet friends for coffee before seeing a play at Brava, but we walked from our flat in North Beach through Chinatown to see the action before hopping on a bus on Mission St. The press said it was a place to buy flowers for the upcoming Chinese New Year's festivities. And there were a few flower booths. But there was also a whole lot of other sights.

You can find a full list of activities celebrating the onset of the Year of the Dragon--including the Miss Chinatown USA pageant, a Chinatown Community Street Fair, a Chinese New Year celebration by the SF Symphony, and of course, the Chinese New Year Parade--at this schedule of Chinatown events.

The parade will be Saturday, Feb. 11, from 5-8:30pm. See you there!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In the Embrace of the Bay

The thing I like best about living in North Beach is the proximity to the Bay. Crest any hill and there it is, sparkling like a jewel. The beautiful, blue waters nourish me, and the iconic bridges fringing its edges make me feel significant, like I'm on a movie set or in the midst of important events. On Sunday, my sister Jackie and her husband Paul came for a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. After we crossed, we turned left up Hawk Hill. It was a hard pedal, but the view of the Pacific Ocean halfway up was worth it.
Looking back over our route after we got to the top, it seemed we had come very far. In fact, it was only about 10 or 12 miles. Our flat is a bit to the left of the tallest (dark) building in the distant skyline of San Francisco.
We coasted down the other side, my hands clamping hard on both breaks during the steep descent. We stopped by the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, which had charming exhibits, before riding through the dark one-lane tunnel to Sausalito. Once there, we enjoyed the music of Mal Sharpe's Big Money Jazz Band at the No Name Bar until the Ferry arrived. It was starting to get dark when we boarded the boat, and the moon was full and low on the horizon.

It was full dark by the time we got back to the Ferry Building and home sweet home.