Fall in the Bay Area

I grew up on the East Coast, but I've had the good fortune to live in the San Francisco Bay Area for much of my adult life. A couple of years in San Francisco, about a year in Berkeley, and more than 20 years in Napa to the northeast of the bay have made the area feel like home. Whatever you've heard about this part of the country - its ridiculously fine climate, stunning geography, and remarkable offerings of wine and food - is all true. In my view, at no time of the year is the unique nature of the Bay Area more evident than during the last two weeks of October and the first two weeks of November. The summer fog is a distant memory; the Napa Valley smells like crushed grapes, a lush fragrance I've never experienced anywhere else; the nights are cool, but not so cold that you have to shut out the fresh air; the days are invariably sunny and warm; and the beaches, from Dillon Beach to Half Moon Bay, regularly shed the typical Northern California coastal chill in favor of mild, brilliant sunshine. Perfect. Frankly I'm surprised that about 50 percent of the country doesn't just pack up and head out this way once the calendar hits October 15th. Fall used to represent a harbinger, a hint of the coming winter when everything seems dead or dying. Now it represents a sustained break from the valley heat and the coastal fog. It represents harvest of some of the world's finest grapes that will become some of the world's finest wines made minutes from my front door. It represents a lovely tranquility that seems effortlessly achieved. And it represents another chance for me to remember just how fortunate I am.