Even in Ocean Beach, a Mecca for sun-lovers, you can feel the fall coming. Obecians jump right into the season – just the hint of crispness in the air, and suddenly everyone is wearing sweaters, making soup, and huddling around mugs of tea or coffee, looking for all the world like extras in Home Alone 5: The Beach Holiday.
What to do with this surfeit of cozy feeling? Even in the city of eternal summer, options abound for fall fun. Here are just a few ideas for creating fall in the shadow of a palm tree:
1) Escape the bubble – I know it’s scary to cross Nimitz and venture into the shadowy world beyond OB, but I believe in you. San Diego is one of the largest and most diverse counties in the U.S.A., and an hour drive can take you to another world.
2) Take a trip east to Lake Cuyamaca and spend the day hiking, watching orange and yellow leaves fall and feeling them crunch underfoot…
3) …On your way home from Lake Cuyamaca, swing through Julian to the north and pick up a homemade apple pie. If you prefer, you can pick your own apples and hightail it back to OB to make your own pie. The amazing thing about San Diego is, while your very autumnal apple pie bakes, you can go for a quick surf.
4) Apples aren’t the only fall produce available here in Southern California. Ride your bike to Peoples (wearing a sweater and knit cap, of course), and peruse the squashes, sweet potatoes, apples, and pumpkins. Then stop by the OB Library and pick up a cookbook for recipes like butternut squash soup, pumpkin bread, sweet potato pie, or any sort of soup (all soup, as a rule made up by me right now, is cozy food).
5) The air is undeniably crisp and fragrant, even by the river. Put on hat and scarf, grab a similarly garbed friend, and take a bike ride over the bridge and down the bike path. Head back to Ocean Beach at the right time and you’ll catch football practice in Robb Field, as well as one of Ocean Beach’s epic sunsets.
6) Your bike ride probably made you thirsty, huh? And a little chilly? Go back to People’s and pick up a jug of apple cider, a packet of mulling spices, and a piece of cheesecloth. Go home, pour the cider in a pot on the stove, and follow the directions on the mulling spice bag. Within minutes, your house will be filled to bursting with the smell of mulled apple cider, just like Norman Rockwell’s fictional Vermonter grandmother used to make. Drink the cider, and I can almost guarantee that you will feel jolly, even if you are a curmudgeonly winter-hater.
7) Go to any restaurant in OB that has both a full bar and an espresso machine. Scout these places out, I know they exist, but finding them is half the fun. Hassle the bartender (in a nice way), and get him/her to make you a hot toddy – whiskey, honey, lemon and, if you are lucky, some clove or cinnamon spice, all mixed up and served piping hot. Then tip the bartender kindly, wrap both hands around your mug, and sip away. Other good fall bar drinks? Hard cider, red wine, Oktoberfest beers, porters (or other dark, meaty beers), and whiskey any way.
8) Last but most assuredly not least, buy a ticket to the OB Restaurant Walk in November. Bundle up with scarves and boots, and ride around OB on a trolley with your friends and a bevy of happy strangers/neighbors, stopping at restaurants for free snacks and criminally low priced drinks. A great way to sample all the food in OB, get to know your neighbors, and end the night with rosy cheeks and a festive mood.
These are just a few ideas for making an OB fall a cozy one. Not into seasonal shifts? Well then feel free to disregard all you just read, change out your board shorts and rash guard for a wetsuit, and continue to pretend that it’s just a slightly chilly summer day. That’s your prerogative. But I’ll be at home, drinking mulled cider and baking pie with fresh-picked apples – just keeping it cozy.