The day was drawing to a close, and it was time to head towards the airport. We took a drive through downtown Alameda, a hopping place these days, fully recovered from the abrupt departure of the Navy. There were lots of stores and restaurants, lights, and people. It was charming.
On our way to the Oakland airport across a bridge, nostalgia struck another low blow and we turned into a business park where we used to take our dogs for long aimless walks after they had been cooped up on the boat all day. Debs, our husky, loved this field, it was wide open and filled with tall dry grass in which lived dozens of jackrabbits. I have this abiding memory of him leaping through the grass, ears flying wildly as he sought his prey (which always got away, luckily for my bourgeois sensibilities...). Emma the portly yellow Lab, followed along at a distance, running a bit and coming back to pant at my feet.
The field showed an open window on the Bay and across the grasses years ago we could see the illuminated San Francisco skyline as Debs wore himself out in the chilling Bay breeze. The sun went down in concert with the temperatures as the illuminations went up. It was magic and we never tired of walking the dogs in the jackrabbit field.
On our return last week we found the industrial park paved over, anonymous warehouses and blank faced offices occupying almost all the open space. The central area was bulldozed ready for any new tenant ready to buy the space. I sat in the car bundled up and stared out in the beams of the headlights at what was left of Debs' field. All gone I thought. Nothing stays the same. I'm slipping off into oblivion. The past can't come back. I was feeling nostalgic for my younger self.
We turned the car to leave and find our way in the darkness to the newer, improved and bigger airport. More land built over, more noise, more people, cheaper fares.
"Look! Look!" said my wife. And there on the grassy sidewalk hopped a big eared, gray jack rabbit. He paused, stared at us and loped out of sight into the brush between two office buildings.
"See," my wife said squeezing my hand. "He came to give us a message. They're still here, holding on." Aren't we all...