Island living in Laguna

Chasing Down the Muse

July 16, 2010|By Catharine Cooper

Oh my god, it really is the sun!

When I woke to blue skies after 2½ months of grey, the color seemed iridescent, like something out of a dream. I shunned my indoor yoga class and headed straight to the beach and park for an early morning walk covered in sunscreen.

It's been a long introduction to summer. The trough that has hung on the edge of the West Coast has made most of my friends (and me) cranky and somewhat on edge. We are all sunlight junkies and were way low on our fix. Thankfully, the middle of July has shown her true colors, and the beach now beckons with summer fun.


As I'd pondered the persistent dark and gloomy weather over the past weeks, and fomented in my cranky state, I'd begun to question why I stay in Laguna in the summer. The crowds seem to rub up against my need for personal space.

It was an appointment with my local insurance broker, at his Forest Avenue office, that pushed me over the edge. Thirty-five minutes of circling every lot and street for a place to leave my car had proved futile. When a space finally appeared on the far end of Ocean, I greedily took it. The walk to Forest should have been a short hop — except for the throngs that blocked the sidewalks, gazed in store windows, and were clearly in no hurry to be anywhere.

I had to bite my tongue to stop from cursing. Who were all these people?

When I was a teenager, the huge influx of tourists meant different people to meet (i.e., young men) and a never-ending parade of parties. Now, it means snarled intersections and long lines for everything. Yes, I sound like a curmudgeon.

Once upon a time — bear with me, this may be incredulous to those of you who are relatively new to the hood — there were no freeways in this part of Southern California. That's right. No 405, 5, 55, 22, 57, 91, 73, 240, etc., etc. Pacific Coast Highway was the main north and south route. Laguna Canyon was our east-west passage, winding through the sometimes green, sometimes brown chaparral. And the town of El Toro (before it became Lake Forest) was a gas station, a small country store and a military air strip. Cattle ranged freely and orange trees held ground that is now covered by tract home communities. Sound idyllic? It was.

For those of us who arrived and/or grew up in the '50s and '60s, we are categorically spoiled.

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