Opinion: Close Your Pie Holes and Open Your Nostrils

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Just when you agonize over the churlish antics at City Council, and why Mayor Bob Whalen doesn’t silence Peter Blake’s unhinged, adolescent tirades with a mute button, and why the Chief of Police left us, and why we aren’t doing more to prioritize and protect against this terrifying mega-drought with ground and rain water harvesting (which will help us with fires as well), grey and black water recycling, and compulsory conservation efforts, and why so many businesses fail here, and whether we’ll ever set foot in the Hotel Laguna again, and how we’ll ever provide affordable housing, and why we don’t have the will to better mitigate the ever-increasing traffic, and why we continue the make tourists the bogeyman with the myth that 6 million of them descend on us annually (that’s 16,500 visitors every single day, folks – sure, right), and why Next Door has become a toxic cesspool of chronic complainers instead of a convivial community hub… just when all of that is about to make your head explode, the jasmine blooms, perfuming the air, tickling our olfactory and sedating us from all the yammering with its sensual, hypnotic, floral essence. And oh yeah, there’s that lovely privet too, those privacy hedges with the white flower clusters that the bees love that have the feint cleansing smell of bleach or chlorine but is oh so much sweeter and more intoxicating. And how about the cornucopia of spring colors, with those magical violet jacaranda trees, those electric orange coral trees, and all that fuchsia bougainvillea? It’s all right in front of you and ready to calm your nervous system with a soothing eyeball massage and sensual aromatherapy.

Yes, despite the fact that we are in a drought of cataclysmic proportions and had a dismal wildflower season yet again, hope—and fragrant flowers—spring eternal. Our exotic succulents are popping too, with their mystical and sacred geometry. You want to perfume the inside of your home as well? Go to the Saturday Farmers’ Market and load up on sweet Rosie’s lilies and tuberose, which are abundant now in their pink and white varieties. Nature is the miracle of life. Get out of your cars, power down your computers, take a walk, and breathe in the magnificent explosion of plant life.

And even out at sea our kelp is robust and regenerating, which means our fisheries are too, and with any luck we’ll have abalone again in part from the courageous regeneration efforts of the mighty marine biologist Nancy Caruso.

Finally, did you know that trees have emotional intelligence and that they connect and communicate with every other tree through an underground network of mycelium? It’s all documented in Suzanne Simard’s startling new book, Finding the Mother Tree. They are social, cooperative creatures that learn to survive through their mother trees. Trees are life-giving, sentient beings, and we need to revere them as such. They clean and cool the air, provide sustenance and shelter, and are beautiful to behold. But when they are clear-cut and replaced by mono-crops for logging, the forest loses its wisdom and resilience, and the entire ecosystem is weakened. Tragically, only 3% of old-growth forests remain. I’m grateful we are a tree city and that our forefathers and mothers had the wisdom to plant them so abundantly in this otherwise arid landscape.

Rejoice people, that brilliant time of year is upon us again, when we’ve soldiered through May gray and June gloom, and get rewarded for the rest of the year with daily mood elevation, courtesy of those epic, endless, sun-filled days, cooled by the Pacific, and shaded by the trees. We live in paradise, but it’s a fragile ecosystem that needs nurturing, not nattering.

Billy hosts “Laguna Talks” on KXFM radio at 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

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