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Chasing Down the Muse: There are many reasons to like the world

“I rather like the world. The flesh is pleasing and the Devil does not trouble me.”

— Elbert Hubbard

Life is filled with good memories. Often, summers provide more than usual, especially here in our busy and beautiful coastal community. In many summers these memories can be built from momentous occasions. Other summers are filled with sweet, though “small” memories. Sometimes, summer moves so fast we need to take a deep breath just to savor it all.

As those persistent goats ply our canyon hillside, literally chewing the scenery, working their way out the canyon, summer here in Laguna nears its end. Soon enough the trolleys will stop running, the festivals will have come to an end for another year, children will return to school, and what passes for “normalcy” will return to our town.


I would like to say I can hardly wait, but there again is that deep breath to take. No regret. What have I not accomplished in this summer, in this day, that I would like to have managed? What has another summer of festival participation brought with it? What knowledge and understanding have been gained? What new memories have been stored?

Each year as I spend time in the eucalyptus grove that houses the Sawdust Art Festival, I strive to use that time for gain beyond the monetary. I have been very fortunate to be able to do this over the years. There are many hours in the long days. They have been filled with new connections, new friendships, reflection, delicious observation and more. They have provided an opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding as well. I count this as good.

In teaching and working with clients my world is enlarged by how others do things. So, too, the more casual summer contact of hundreds of people I might not otherwise meet presents an opportunity for new understanding. Diversity of dress, thought, custom and more are abundant.

One of my more pleasurable summer activities is to ride the trolleys to and from the festival grounds. As the wind whips everyone’s hair around, snippets of life in the form of light conversation about the world of each fellow traveler whip around also. The energy of the wind and the eager anticipation of my fellow trolley travelers are exhilarating.


Visitors from many parts of the world stop by the booth that I share with artist Suzette Rosenthal. Some of them are prompted to chat about their experience here or the lives they lead elsewhere. This is invigorating and often quite interesting, at times leading to further contact as well.

Even the surrounding booth spaces offer fodder as bits of conversations are overheard and stored for later. The booth of ceramicist Jan Sattler with its myriad intricate specimens of sea life has fostered many an interesting — and often titillating — conversation about the sea life and the sea itself as a treasured resource.

I do rather like this world, just as Mr. Hubbard did. Each day offers up more of its treasures. The trolley rides, a trip to L.A. with my daughter and Emily Howell and her visiting mother, Ann, are some of the highlights. New festival friends like Karen and Ret Talbot have enhanced the festival’s old friendships and ties. Other friends who are first-timers to the show, like Jesse Bartels and Nadine Nordstrom, make the days a delight.

Just as on long ago summer days that offered up blackberry juice running down arms to the elbows and long, lazy days under draping trees at my grandparents’ home, the sound of crows overhead are my signal. Summer is coming to an end.

In those days of the past there was a hint of regret at what had not been accomplished before school began once again. I have two weeks to continue the gather for this year. No regret, just the sheer pleasure of living and learning with no devils to trouble me.

So for today and the remaining tomorrows I shall intend to plunge into the very mystery of each day itself. Feel free to join me.

The goats are almost finished with the hillside for this year. Let us enjoy.

Joy-filled mysterious moments fill the life of artist, writer, and teacher CHERRIL DOTY. You may reach her at (714) 745-9973 or