The Bay Area and the California Dream

It’s been especially lovely here in the Bay Area all this past week, with mild temperatures around 68 or 70 F (though a bit warmer in the Oakland Hills where we are), and sunny warm skies decorated with big fluffy white clouds, a kind of atmosphere rarely seen in SoCal, where I’ve lived virtually my entire life until 9 months ago.

I’ve also noticed the effect of living farther north, and farther west in the same time zone, as Los Angeles: the daylight is shorter, and in particular the sun rises later in the mornings. Yeong and I are up weekdays at 5:30, and in recent weeks it’s still pitch dark at even 7 a.m. This will change now that we’re off Daylight Savings Time, as of today.

These days I listen to KQED weekday mornings, in particular Michael Krasny’s 2-hour “Forum” program, which gets nation-wide exposure, judging from the callers they get from across the country. Last Tuesday there was an hour about how a Bay Area Writer Laments His Fading California Dream, about Daniel Duane, who had published an opinion piece in the New York Times, My Dark California Dream, the weekend before, on October 24th. Duane lives in ‘the city’, San Francisco, and was writing about the excessive real estate prices not just in the city but around the Bay Area, and about his perception of the how the drought in California, and the effect of climate change, has affected his annual visits to Yosemite and the Sierras, where the meadows have dried up and the wildflowers have vanished.

Since Duane lives in the city and loves it, he was not condemning the city, or California; he was just addressing issues that have made this area less than the ideal he grew up with. But what was remarkable about the callers in to that show on Tuesday was how so many of them repeated the theme: yes, there are problems, but this is still the greatest city and environment to live in, anywhere in the US, and they would not live anywhere else. The landscape, the culture, the diversity, the weather.

Yeong and I had difficulties finding a reasonable place to live, given real estate prices and commuting issues. But especially after hearing this feedback — and other programs on this same radio show about real estate issues in ‘the city’ — I think we were very lucky to have ended up where we are.

Yesterday we shopped, at the ethnic Asian shops north of Berkeley, and Costco, and the AT&T store, and a stop at BMW for motor oil — everything so close — with dinner later at Bourban and Beef on College Street, with bourban flights and my favorite cocktail, the Aviation. Today, a hike into a previously unexplored corner of Joaquin Miller Park, around Sequoia Arena, among the deep dark woods, only a couple miles from our house.

And just now: another gorgeous sunset.

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