The woman beside me wouldn’t have been caught dead looking like the second woman. Yet she should have been thankful for her. For it is only by contrast that the well-groomed look smart, and the overdressed look fussy. Whether that is Einstein’s theory of relativity or not, I don’t know. I only know that, “It takes all sorts of people to make a world.”
There we sit on parade in these side-seater cars, and what we are is revealed so pitilessly to all who sit across from us. It is as though Fate were making jokes of us and sits us down beside the antitheses of ourselves. Such a one of Nature’s jokes I saw recently. They were two men. The first was the sort whom one calls an “old boy.” A racy individual, well-fed with a round front, an Elk, of course, a city man, reeking of good cigars, and an appraising eye out for a good-looking woman.
Beside him sat a man who had been studying birds in the Park. Berkeley was written all over him. A thin, pure type. He was dressed in field glasses and a bag full of green weeds and stout walking boots. There was an ecstatic glint in his eye which meant that he had discovered a long-billed, yellow-tailed Peruvian fly-catcher, “very rare in these parts.”
So there they sat packed in so close and so terribly far apart, both so necessary to the making of a world.
And as they sat a boy entered the car with a shoe-box, full of holes, and out of the holes came a “peep” and then another. And the Berkeley man lost his abstracted look and the man-about-town laid down his paper and pretty soon the boy lifted the lid a bit and both men peeked in.
Sunsets in the desert, spring in New England, black-green oaks lying on tawny hills in Marin County, fields of cotton on red soil in Georgia, surf on the rocks of Maine, moonlight on Mobile Bay, and the way the fog comes upon San Francisco on summer afternoons.
Sometimes when all its hills lie sparkling in the sunshine and children play on the sidewalks, young fellows whistle, business autos go zippity-ip around the corners, and the whole city is out of doors or hanging out of the windows, then suddenly in great billows the fog comes rolling in through the Golden Gate, and between the hills right up the streets into the city.
Then immediately all is changed and everything is nearer and more intimate and nothing of the city is left but the street you’re on. Then you hurry home for supper and home seems good and sometimes you even light a little fire in the grate.
Still it is not a cold fog, it is not a wet fog, it is never an unkind fog. It comes swiftly, but very gently, and lays its cool, dainty hand on your face lovingly. Hands are so different, sticky or wet or clammy or hot, but the hand of the San Francisco fog is the hand of a kind nurse on a tired head. The rain is a beautiful thing too, but the fog has another significance. — It is the “small rain” that Moses spoke of — “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.”