My favorite things about the flower market:
1. The smell. It's not just the heavy sweetness of the tuberoses, or the spicy hyacinths. It's the scent of dampness and the cold and the gentle fragrance of decay that hangs over all. How do you photograph a smell?
2. The flowers, of course.
and where they end up...
The colors. These are mostly dahlias...or dahlias, mostly.
But there is bittersweet from the east where it is crisply fall...
Peonies from New Zealand where it is spring. Sprays of small green dates from the Middle East where it is always summer.
And tender-stemmed amaryllis in little coffins.
3. The friends who go with me. Enthusiastically.
4. The time. I leave the house in the middle of the night when even the dogs are sleeping and the newspaper delivery person is not even thinking about getting up. I drive across a deserted bridge (relatively speaking for you sticklers) and turn a lonesome corner in an iffy neighborhood, and there inside the parking gates is a bustling small town. Cars are double parked along Main Street, people are chatting and laughing, criss-crossing between buildings, wheeling flat carts piled high with flowers.
Huge bundles of newspaper-wrapped flowers with legs sticking our below weave their way across the parking lot. No idea how they see where they're going.
Inside the brightly lit warehouses are little stalls, each with a specialty. Orchids in one, branches in another. Chrysanthemums or callas, topiary or tropicals. Roses, ribbons, antlers or amaryllis, candles and cellophane. Flowers from every season, every hemisphere.
5. The parking - where else can you leave your keys in your car and come back to find it moved but not stolen? You leave your keys so the person you blocked when you double-parked can move your car and get out. Or so you can move the beat-up behemoth someone parked behind you.
6. When I emerge for a last trip to my car, arms full of branches, the sun is just coming up, the parking lot is clearing out (it will fill up again later when the public comes in) and the magic is going. You can feel it fade as the sun rises and the ruts in the parking lot and the flotsam and jetsam on the sidewalk come into view.
But just for a while every weekday morning there is a place in San Francisco that is full of magic. Etherial, ephemeral, magic. And how many magical places are left?