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Friday Slide Show: Hope at the Windmill Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

24 July 2020

We have a new attraction in San Francisco. It's four letters in bright white stone that spell "hope" in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden at the foot of the north windmill in Golden Gate Park.

Circumstances gave us a chance to visit the site the other day, so we parked the car up the street and walked over to the garden on a dismal, foggy day. The white letters stood out just as brightly as if the sun had been shining.

It doesn't stand alone either.

"The word is surrounded by mixed begonias and lobelia and in the crescent beds around 'Hope' are 'sunset' snapdragons bordered by white begonias with purple gladiolus popping through," Tessa McLean reported in her story about the new display.

It was Toby Kanzawa's idea. He's the section supervisor for that part of the park. He had been impressed by what he'd seen walking around the residential areas of the city during the shelter-in-place order.

We have a new attraction in San Francisco.

McLean quoted him, "Going around in the neighborhood, I saw everyone's windows decked-out with positive vibes. Families putting stuffed animals in windows for the kids, people writing out words in Post-it notes, all of that. The one word I saw most often was the word 'hope.'"

Each of our front windows has a stuffed bear in it. Sometimes the little kids point them out to their parents as they walk up or down the hill in front of our house.

Other neighbors have rainbows, children's drawings and a large assortment of Black Lives Matter signs (including painted rocks), among other displays. We are silently cheering each other on.

Kanzawa's installation, which took a few days to fine tune, is on public property, though, and draws a crowd. A lot of graduation photos have been taken at the site, he said, which led them to put up signs reminding folks to keep their distance from each other.

That doesn't keep them from thanking Kanzawa when he's puttering around the tulip garden.

After we took a few shots of the garden and the dark but beneficent windmill which once watered the park and now protects the garden, we walked over to the sea wall.

The promenade was deserted like every other venue in the city. There were a few people walking their dogs or taking a stroll and a few more on the beach. But nothing like there usually is, even on a dismal day, in the middle of July.

We took a few shots at low tide. The muted colors contrasted with the bright tulip garden's display.

Then we returned to the car, stopping to take a few more shots of the windmill and its upbeat display.

As we did, a grandmother led a toddler to the big word while the grandfather took out his smartphone to capture the moment.

If could just be that's the first word this new generation learns to read.

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