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Friday Slide Show: Gracious Living Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

13 November 2020

Just across Portola from us is St. Francis Wood, an enclave of mansions and tree-lined streets that make the leaves rustle with the phrase "gracious living."

You hardly see anyone there but laborers. Gardeners every day of the week. A variety of painters, plumbers, carpenters on any day. Some of the homes, many of them built around 1928, are in the middle of thorough renovations. But not enough to disturb the tranquility of the area.

There are a few people taking a walk through St. Francis Wood. But not many. At least not these days.

And those who do, wear masks and step into the street to maintain six feet of distance even for such a brief encounter as passing each other on the sidewalk.

Perhaps due to our advanced age, having been born sometime in the previous century, no one looks at us suspiciously as we wander around. We may, in fact, have been mistaken for an actual resident.

It is awfully kind of the fortunate people who actually do live here to maintain these places as a peaceful, calming refuge for the rest of us to walk through now and then. We think of them, in return, as our neighbors.

It is particularly charming to see some glorious pergola, for example, in disrepair. Or a window sill decorated with postcards whose backs are all you see from the street.

The one shot we didn't take we still regret. We spied through the airy curtains of a sunny first floor window the elegant dark curve of a baby grand piano's propped open top. All you could see in the bright scene was the dark curve of the top.

But as we stood there admiring the musicality of the tones, we saw an elderly woman in the window above peek nervously out at us. So we turned and walked away with a slight limp to solicit her sympathy.

Because, you know, we have to return for that shot.

The autumn angle of the sun enriched the texture of the facades with detail. And the variety of architectural styles is, itself, entertaining. All framed by meticulously maintained landscaping.

There are even a couple of fountains in the neighborhood. One was being cleaned (which didn't prevent a few pairs of lovers from sitting on the benches in the morning sunlight). The other is seen here from two angles.

And then there are the benches in the two little parks. They invite repose and reflection. We start with one (after showing the shadowed walkway into the area) and end with the other.

Look for us there next time you pass through. We'll be waiting for the elderly woman to take her afternoon nap so we can get that shot of her baby grand.

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