Warmer days are here again

Around California's Monterey Bay, Labor Day doesn't signal the beginning of cold weather, as it does in the rest of the country.

I just checked the calendar today. Labor Day comes early this year. What a relief. I'm looking forward to putting away those sweaters and windbreakers. It's time to drop down the top on the old convertible and splash on the sun tan lotion. Warm weather is on its way!

When I tell this to people from back East, they're incredulous, even though they know full well that I live on the west coast of California. And I mean right on the west coast. As I write this, I am looking out onto Monterey Bay.

This area is truly blessed with some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. Pacific Ocean waves turn into mist on rocky shores. Birds, whales, sea lions, porpoises, and kayakers frolic in this marine sanctuary.

I wouldn't want to live anywhere else – except in the summer.

The fog rolled in during Memorial Day weekend. It was right on schedule. My wife and I looked gloomily at each other and sighed. We weren't ready for summer yet; at least not our type of foggy summer. That fog can really put a chill in you.

Just inland, the rest of California is baking in 90-degree heat (we think of it as "warmth").

In contrast, the sea around us is 55 degrees F. The ocean-chilled air rushes into the void left by all that rising hot air in the interior. This creates what the weather forecasters call a marine layer. Well, I call it a marine invasion. Fog by any other name is just as gray.

Sometimes it feels as though there has been a circle drawn on the map around us here. It's sort of like the Arctic Circle. You know, that other place on earth where they only catch glimpses of the sun for months on end.

Fog can get to you after a while.

Ah, but then Labor Day arrives. The fog lifts, our spirits lift, and everything reappears in glorious profusion. Those magnificent Monterey pines stand out clearly etched against sand, sea, and sky.

Otter pups, grown big enough to feed themselves, still bark plaintively at their tired mom. Wrapped in seaweed to prevent drifting out to sea, mama otter takes a well-deserved nap on the calmed Pacific.

Monarch butterflies are arriving at their wintering trees in nearby Pacific Grove. Children in this seaside community are making costumes for their annual butterfly parade down the main street. Gray whales spout their stuff as they move in small pods heading south to their breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexico.

Visiting yachts crowd our small harbor. They hail from Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia, and even Alaska. Many will eventually congregate in Mexico.

There, they will make any necessary repairs to their crafts and restock supplies while awaiting April. Then, a six-week window of favorable wind and weather opens. Intrepid sailors unfurl lifetime goals as they begin a several-weeks crossing to the Marquesas Islands, and then to Polynesia, Samoa, and dreams beyond.

My dreams circumnavigate the globe, too, but they always come back to Monterey. The chill winds of summer close out one season of dreams. Labor Day kicks off another. The revealed sun begins a time of renewal, of optimism, of beautiful vistas, and – most of all – of warmth.

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