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To everything, there is a season...

As we were getting this issue ready for press, a reader called with a complaint. Why, he wanted to know, had Gulfshore Life not acknowledged the epochal events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001? He then chided us for ignoring the tragedy on our pages, saying that we were consumed with the frivolous and devoted to perpetuating the notion that living in Southwest Florida is like "living in la-la land."

For the record, we work about two months in advance on our issues, and the terrorist attacks came right as we were on deadline. When news is breaking by the minute, the reporting of it, or even the interpretation of it, is not the business of a monthly magazine. We briefly considered redesigning our cover to reflect the atmosphere of national mourning and unity, but in the end we decided it was best to stick to our mission-keep the stories close to home.

Still, the reader's observations were altogether valid, and to be perfectly honest, they weren't that far removed from my own thoughts as we prepared this issue, which, at its heart, celebrates food, wine and entertaining Southwest Florida-style. Given recent occurrences, one might justifiably ask: "What's to celebrate?" In light of such unspeakable grief and turmoil how can we take blithe pleasure in planning the perfect dinner party or finding the ideal stemware or serving the most recent releases from Napa Valley or Bordeaux?

The only way we can rationalize the pursuit of pleasure in the face of agony is to recognize that we were all indelibly marked by the horrors of September. Nothing we do-be it at work, at home, or in the company of friends-will ever be the same. Nor will such pleasures be taken for granted. We grieve, and then we move on, carrying with us the kernel of remembrance that tempers all we do. It's part of the transformational process-from great evil can come great good. To raise a glass of wine becomes more than a mere toast, to sit down for a fine meal becomes more than the breaking of bread-it becomes an affirmation.

So, what's to celebrate? Quite simply, everything. And perhaps now more than ever.

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