Sunday, August 5, 2012

In The Garden of Hearts vs. Guns

Dianne's Garden

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s brick and brownstone home sits perched on the western edge of Pacific Heights where the prestigious neighborhood borders a forested section of the Presidio. Well known to locals, the Lion Street steps run from the cul-de-sac base of Lion, a bowl-shaped grotto of majestic Eucalyptus trees and Tuscan Pines, up one city block to Vallejo Street, right passed Senator Feinstein's house and on up to Broadway Street.

The Lyon Street steps are popular both for their aesthetic surroundings and their cardiovascular workout. The steps are quite steep and line a series of private homes stretching these two city blocks, but Feinstein’s house is the only abode whose front door and garden face the general foot-traffic with such open largesse. She definitely invites the public view and encourages our enjoyment with a lavish garden of short hedgerows, trimmed topiaries and an abundance of colorful flowers all surrounded by a wide plaza. Some un-shy people even use the plaza to extend their workout to sit-ups, push-ups and stretching.

I call this incredible garden, “Dianne’s garden,” and I am enchanted every time I walk, or jog, by. This summer, the garden is all a-bloom with bright ranunculi and lavender.  Indeed, this 35 square-foot ground flourishes with waves of radiant lavender standing up out of the garden-palette like soft cat’s tails swaying gently in the breeze.  Also, seemingly planted, in the garden is one of the San Francisco Hearts - of the widely known and much loved, artistic project put on by city sculptors and painters in 2004, the proceeds of which continue to benefit San Francisco General Hospital. Many of the hearts can be found scattered all over the city. Dianne Feinstein’s heart sits at the center of her garden and creates a beautiful symmetry with the Lion Street steps and its bright trim of yellow and green hedgerows. 

I remember, way back in 2003, walking through the garden and plaza with my mom and passing by this house when it was up for sale. The doors were left wide open, and we could see through to the immense foyer of black & white tiled floors and immaculately white walls and covered staircase. A grand piano was artfully placed so that it appeared to float in a white cloud illuminated with sun-rays shooting down from what must have been skylights. It was quite stunning and rather surreal – an image emblazoned in my memory.

 At present, amidst so much controversy about guns and the ownership of guns, the Senator continues to push forward gun control legislation, including the Gun-free Schools Act.

“I wrote the assault weapons ban that was the law of
the land for a decade. Now the NRA essentially has a stranglehold on congress with the brutal consequences of firearms.”
          -  Senator Feinstein from an interview in On The Issues, July 2012

So she is still fighting the good fight against a torrent of conservative thinking. The Senator is a revered Democrat with a track record of historic roles in politics: She was the first female supervisor and then Mayor of San Francisco and, in 1992, the first female California Senator, along with colleague, Barbara Boxer. Much of Dianne Feinstein’s history can be seen in the film, “Milk,” as she was there on the scene in 1978 when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated. Feinstein will run for her fourth term in the senate this year.

The city of San Francisco is unique in so many ways, not least of all its sanctuaries of rare birds: herons, egrets, hundreds of migratory birds, ocean birds and even owls and wild parrots! They are cherished and protected. But the people of San Francisco are also rare and unique, and as a fierce advocate for gun control, the Senator obviously has a love of these rare beings: both the birds and the people – of San Francisco and of the whole nation. I have to admire her for that.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Garden. I wish we had more beautiful places in Florida! i just joined your blog, thanks for your support over at