dailybell2008: Return to the Ferry Building

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Return to the Ferry Building

9/1 AM Labor Day at the Ferry Building
Finally. Back to the Ferry Building. I was so excited about going back to the Ferry Building that I forgot that today was a holiday. No ferries this early on Labor Day. Since I was last here on Memorial Day, the area has been determined to be unsafe and is closed indefinitely. At least one other person arrived this morning and was surprised by the closing. He was angry and walked around swearing in front of the Ferry Terminal for a few minutes before leaving to find other parking. Fortunately for me, there was a tiny spot behind the bus zone that I could squeeze into.

9/3 AM Greeting Sunrise Commuters
I arrived at the Ferry Building quite a bit before the sunrise, and the first of two ferries was already coming in. I set up the sandwich board, untied the bell and spilled a few of the tiny bells onto the sidewalk in front of the board. By the time I finished setting up, all of the people were gone so I just stood around for a few minutes staring into the morning. There were still 10 minutes or so to go until the sunrise and as soon as I started to ring the bell- the Baylink bus showed up! I was so surprised to see it because it was much later than the one I had met in the Spring. Of course, it was a different bus and different driver. This driver didn’t even get out of the bus, but many passengers did. One of them came by to read my sign and asked me what it was all about. I told her the sun was rising and she smiled in surprise. She took a bell and blessed me. By then the second ferry had come in and those passengers were disembarking. I rang and rang for them and kept an eye on the time so I would know when the sun was actually crossing the horizon. I figured that would be my stop time. One more person came by and took a bell and rang it as she walked away. Those free bells are so tiny and quiet, the woman had to hold it to her ear as she crossed the street and then she rang it in her friend’s ear as well. When there was only two minutes until the actual event, I turned on the camera and rang the bell double time for the last few minutes. All by myself.

9/5 AM Leaving a Little Pile of Gold
Because I got to the Ferry Building just 5 minutes ahead of the sunrise, I had to rush around to set out all of my accessories and do my little chores: update the sign board so that it showed the correct time for the sunrise, scatter the tiny bells on the ground in front of the sign, unhitch the bungees on the bell and the clapper, etc. Once finished with the set up, there wasn’t much time left to look around and see what was going on. I quickly set up the camera so that it faced a different direction than the last time and began the filming and the chiming. Although no one stopped this time, it felt very satisfying to ring for the joggers, cyclists and early morning tourists who happened by.

9/8 AM Sunrise Under the Bay Bridge
As I approached the Ferry Terminal this morning, I saw the thin line of early morning passengers leaving the boat and heading into town. They have all disappeared by the time the sun comes up. Not so for the Baylink bus passengers who arrive just as the sun is rising. Not that there is much difference in the amount of light. The biggest change in light comes when the streetlights and parking lot lights switch off. The one person who stopped and spoke with me this morning told me that she worked at the next pier. She says she watches the sun rise under the Bay Bridge every morning when she is at work. It’s a great vantage point.

9/10 AM Losing Light
Another trip to the Ferry Building. We are losing light. The pace has noticeably accelerated since the summer solstice. At the turning point just after the solstice, we were losing less than 5 minutes a week for the first few weeks. Now we are almost 15 minutes of light per week. Last week when I arrived at the Ferry Terminal just before sunrise, the ferry had just arrived and people were still getting off the boat as I set up. Today, the boat was already pulling away from the dock and zipping along the bay while it was still dark outside. I had a repeat visitor this morning. The security guard who sang and rang last week, came back while I was setting up and I gave him another little bell. They’re like the little candies by the register on the way out of the restaurant. Maybe he is spreading them around. I hope so, and I hope others will do the same. I forgot the little pile of bells that I had spilled onto the sidewalk in front of the signboard today. It’s a lovely little pile of gold waiting to be discovered. At least I remembered the signboard this time.

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