Subterranean Vents, Marin Headlands | Mark Lindsay

Up in the Marin Headlands, among the ruins of the bunkers and coastal fortifications, one can spot evidence of a subterranean world. There are mounds of dirt, domes of concrete, rusted hatches, and air vents to the underworld. It all seems so hellish, even in its dormancy and ruin. The world is sealed off now, the portals welded shut. One can only imagine the world down there—what it must have been like when solders performed their duty in the dank, concrete world, waiting for an invasion that might or might not ever come.

I've spent a lot of time up in those old fortifications, walking around the gun mounts, brisk sea air in my face. The vistas are magnificent, framed by the haunted, old structures. What's down there in the forbidden zone? But, it's what's beneath the surface that fascinates me the most. I wonder if all those passages and concrete-lined vaults will simply and humbly crumble with time, burying the secrets of the past. Slow decay of memories and fears. Mother Earth embraces the past, folds it all back in and returns it to mulch. Time churns it all like a giant, relentless plow. We mostly don't notice the changes...there are errands to run, bills to pay, jobs to do. Then we look up one day and it's all different.

We tend to notice cataclysmic events and replay them over and over in our heads, on YouTube, on TV. But, the slow movements of time are harder to detect, yet far more profound. It's all swirling, all the time.

A giant tree fell in our backyard last year, eaten away by rot and insects. Munch, munch, munch. The little beetles were just eating their dinner. And then one day, the whole damn thing came crashing down. And like the subterranean bunker vents, there is now a stump that reminds us of the underworld network that was once the roots of a proud tree. Lots going on down there.