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CHASING DOWN THE MUSE:Birdsong echoes appreciation for Laguna Beach

The symphony of birdsong begins early.

At 3:15 a.m. I hear the rhythmic deep hooting of an owl "” the bassoon soloist. The answering sound further up the hill comes moments later. The two echo each other in a haunting duet until I drift back to a deep dreaming sleep.

By 5:15 a.m. the full orchestra is tuning up. The melodic mockingbirds, warbling house finches, and twittering goldfinches all practice their own distinctive sounds.

The percussionist crows and blue jays raucously pound home their own rasping, booming voices and an occasional screech from the unpracticed violinist of the orchestra "” the hawk "” can be heard, too.


What glorious sounds come in this gloomy gray dawn "” the usual fare for springtime in Laguna. I arise, eager to partake of the day’s possibilities (and a hot cup of coffee before meeting my friend Catharine for a morning walk on the beach.)

Sure, we have too many cars. Too many people. Too much construction. Too much noise. Too much complaining. And, yet.... Given all that, and an infrastructure that doesn’t quite handle the influx, where else can we have so much of paradise in our daily lives?

As Catharine and I ply the beach at the day’s lowest tide, we cannot help but note the changes that are the natural character of the beach.

Where last week were rocks, now sand covers them over.


Where there was a beach littered by stones and glass, these have been replaced by piles of kelp and myriad fascinating shells. So much to see. Each day different from the one that went before.

A look at the back pages of this very paper will bring you the local tide tables where one can see the simple changing of low and high tides over time and the changes in sunrise and sunset over the course of the month.

These are the statistics. The reality of it is even more captivating. These long days of spring are so rich and full. No wonder our beaches and streets are so full.

By afternoon the morning’s gloom will have lifted at least for a while. The blue sea will twinkle as white sails drift offshore.

More and more people will have wandered down to enjoy some time at the beach, either sitting or strolling or maybe getting in some volleyball or basketball at Main Beach.

This is what Laguna Beach is. We are a village. We are a tourist attraction. We are an art colony. We are recreation, destination, home, a bird sanctuary, a beach community, and much, much more. These are the reasons we chose to be here and why more and more people (and birds, too, I suppose) will choose here as well.

This is a pretty special place. It is good to remember, to honor, to preserve, and respect this. And, as our mothers once told us, it is good to share.

As summer approaches with all the problems this presents to those of us who try to live and work and travel through here, this is that gentle reminder to be grateful for what we have to cherish each day. Make time. Love it.


  • is a creative living coach, writer and artist who lives and works in Laguna Beach. She can be reached at or by phone at (949) 251-3883.