I read that last weekend there was an artist’s reception at Endangered Planet Gallery to introduce a new work commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Canyon Walk, when a big crowd of Lagunans walked up Laguna Canyon to protest its planned development.
The news item made me realize I’ve been in Laguna longer now than I’ve ever been anywhere else. I was at that walk. It seemed like everybody was at that walk. Even our daughter, Katie, showed up, and she was only 9 months old.
The walk took place in November 1989, and I remember saying beforehand that it was a waste of time. I’d come out to California from Chicago and my understanding of politics was that if something was about to happen and you didn’t like it, it generally happened anyway. I didn’t see how a stroll up the road would accomplish much.
But Patti Jo said we might make a difference, naïve thing, so we stuck little Katie in her carrier on my back and off we went, up the canyon with everybody else.
What I remember is that not only were a lot of people out walking that day — they were in a good mood. I’d only been in Laguna for three years and wasn’t used to community spirit. In Irvine, Tustin and Santa Ana, where I had lived since my arrival in California, everyone had been pretty spread out.
It seemed to me that more than self-interest was on display here; these people wanted the canyon to stay healthy. I believe it was the old humorist Kin Hubbard who said you never see a mob rushing across town to do a good deed, but that day I saw one strolling up a canyon to do so.
Somewhere we have a photograph from that day, showing Patti Jo, Katie and me out there. Katie is about the size of a potato chip in her carrier.
Now she’s finishing her sophomore year at Dickinson College and had her own blog this spring on Middle Eastern politics.
The passage of time doesn’t fully hit you until you read the blog of a grown woman who used to be an 8-pound counterweight.
As it turned out, the “Save the Canyon” demonstration resulted in the canyon being saved, which came as a considerable surprise to me. I’m glad I was there that day, even if only as a sidekick.
I’m also glad Katie participated in the protest walk, although she didn’t actually walk — or protest, either. (Pretty much slept through it.) It got her off to a Laguna start.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed. His novel, “Diminished Capacity,” is now available in bookstores, and the film version is available on DVD.