Summer’s Best Arrives Out of Season
Every now and then I’m compelled to blow a big wet kiss to Laguna. Much as I try to resist, it’s involuntary, a compulsion to confess the great joy and gratitude I feel living here. Oh sure, I bitch about how it could be better, but that’s my job as Kibitzer-in-Chief.
Laguna’s got a hold on me and won’t let go. The last few weeks? Ridic. An ocean so seductive and delicious, so impossibly beautiful – with translucent water and thriving sea life – that it beckoned relentlessly as a bracing relief to the crushing heat wave. I never feel so alive as when I’m swimming these waters, tucking into the towering kelp forests, the bright orange garibaldi accenting the golden fronds and green depths. Seven contoured miles of pristine coastline, with water so clear it has recently taken on a turquoise hue more reminiscent of Jamaica than Laguna. It’s remarkable, all the more so because of the 24 million of us living in the region who consume and excrete such massive mounds of matter.
Yep, this place is special. And it’s about to get better. Because while everyone else is heading back to the grindstone, we’re heading back to the beach. The crowds have thinned, the water’s warm, and the weather perfect. And even when you moan about not having A/C in your million-dollar manse for those two weeks a year, you have to admit those clammy days are mitigated by some spectacularly sultry nights when the brine is prime and you can finally enjoy your deck in a slinky sun dress, undies, or nothing at all.
Fall is when parents get a break from all the summer schlepping, when our artists count their money, when our firefighters feed the community, and when secret local rituals from the Rads, Aquathoners, Manlies and surfers may or may not happen. It’s when Oak Street becomes our crowd sourced scare fest. And this year it could be the beginning of a more pedestrian-centric downtown if we turn lower Park Avenue into Park Plaza, which City Council will consider Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Yep, lucky to live Laguna. With a chaotic, overpopulated and overheated planet, it’s a sanctuary. What brought each and every one of us here was, first and foremost, a blessing. And in no other year has it been so important for Laguna to deliver the goods as this year of 2017, when planetary logic, science, civility, decency and safety have been upended. Laguna held us in her embrace and assured us everything would be fine.
First the waters came. The 25,000 acres of protected open space that buffets us from the cruel world was drenched with blessed rainfall, first producing a carpet of green, and then a dazzling display of wildflowers as our parched hills came alive. Every day was a discovery of purple lupine, orange poppies, and yellow encelias, not to mention profligate deer weed, prickly-pears, and sticky monkeyflower. We saw succulents in people’s gardens morphing and flowering into things none of us had ever seen. I discovered my own inner flower child, and it made me swoon.
If you were not able to hoof it into our vertiginous coastal wilderness, perhaps you made it to that delightful manmade confection, Treasure Island. Maybe you had a picnic or brought visitors for a stroll, or maybe you did a donation based yoga class. Maybe while you were holding a fierce, sun-kissed Warrior Two pose, your thighs quivering, you sank deeper than ever before, soothed by the crashing ocean, the swaying palm trees, the squealing kids, and the amazing succulent garden with the cosmic purple pride of Madeira framing the deep blue sea. In that moment you became present with your breath, and you were indeed the luckiest person on earth.
More of a duffer than a down-dogger? Go no further than across the street to a mind blowing canyon arroyo we locals call Little Yosemite. Whip those shoes off, like the owner does, and absorb the earth’s energy as you play a casual round, marinating in a landscape as dramatic as any Ansel Adams shot. Follow that with a cold frosty and live music, overlooking the great escarpment. That’s where Joseph Thurston, whose family were 19th century homesteaders of this land, said “makes a great sounding board that sends vibrations all over the valley, and sometime in the future may serve to send sweet music where it may be heard by throngs of people.” That’s us, folks. The lucky ones.
The majesty of Laguna is our boundless nature. In fact, a recent study with prison populations found that when inmates were shown scenes of nature, like ocean waves, waterfalls, aquariums and other serene images, they were 26 percent less likely to be disciplined for violence.
Maybe that’s how we chill out the upcoming America First demonstration on Sunday, Sept. 24, and the escalating tensions between the so-called alt-right and left. Put them high up in the Coast Wilderness and watch their defenses melt into a collective sigh of awe, wonder, hugs, and “I love you, mans.” It’s the power of the flower.
Fried interviews the OC leadership of the Democratic Socialists of America at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept 21, on FM KX 83.5 to learn their plan for America First demonstration of Sept. 24. He can be reached at [email protected]