It’s late afternoon, and I’m looking east through the big picture windows of my favorite café in Berkeley, California. I’m used to seeing the Green Mountains when I look east, but today I see the Berkeley Hills.
There’s no confusing the Berkeley Hills for the Green Mountains. The slopes of the Berkeley Hills are covered with more houses than trees; the electric lights in those houses are blinking on right now, and will outshine the constellations tonight. The hills’ summits are ridged with cell phone towers. And to see the Berkeley Hills I must look across a parking lot, past six lanes of traffic and the BART train tracks, and beyond a network of power lines and street lights.
A refrain runs through my head that’s been haunting me since we arrived in Berkeley for my husband’s sabbatical. It goes like this: What have we done?