Chasing Down The Muse: Laguna Beach is ‘our town’ again

Doggy Liberation Day!

That’s what Buster and all of his canine friends celebrated with the annual click of the calendar past Wednesday. We took the opportunity for lunch on the sand. He dug a hole behind my chair and relished both the sunshine and the chance to swim in the middle of the day.

Honestly, we still can’t figure out what all the uproar is about. He could care less about tourists, and I don’t know why they should care about him. He does think, after all, that this is “his” town, too. He’s got a license to prove it!

The weather could not be better, nor the beaches nicer.


Cathy Cox said to me, “These are my favorite days of summer. The dogs are back and the tourists have all gone home.”

The water is still warm — although down to 74 degrees from last weekend’s 77 degrees — and crystal clear. Fish, kelp and related sea creatures are easily seen even without snorkel, mask and fins. While local surfers continue to feel the frustration of a wave-less summer, everyone eventually seems to find something to catch.

Kids are back in school, and the after hours take on a more organized overtone. Football and band practice fill the high school field, and the library sees more students. Homework seems to curtail much of the summer late-evening skateboarding, and even the streets seem subdued.

Autumn begins to nip at the air and slowly, the nighttime temperatures creep ever lower. I find myself tossing on a sweatshirt for my early morning yoga class and find fat socks for the evenings.


The bamboo have begun to drop their leaves in earnest, along with my miniature apple tree. The backyard resembles a kind of Japanese painting — stones, grass and the spent leaves all mingled.

All these changes herald a season I’ve always equated with reflection. Summer fun gives way to a reach toward seriousness. Priorities tend to be reevaluated and my chosen course of direction fine-tuned.

None of us has been untouched by the economic malaise that has gripped our country. Everyone I speak with shares stories of changed spending habits and tighter budgets. For myself, my eye is focused on need and value. Shopping for shopping’s sake has fallen by the wayside. Much of what I took for granted — in both work and expendable cash — have been reevaluated.

With those thoughts, I find more than ever that I search for ways to spend precious dollars within our own city limits. For me, the viability of our local merchants — retailers, service providers and restaurants — is critical to the character of our town. For the most part, businesses in Laguna tend to be owned by Lagunans. What we support, supports us.

I’m thrilled that the city has approved a series of workshops called “Laguna Open to Business.” The idea is to explore and develop ways to ease the process of starting a business in town. With all our empty storefronts, this seems like a very timely topic.

Some in town (almost all the kids) would say they hate to see summer end, but that never is true for me. The weather generally gets more splendid — warm days and cool nights — and the sunsets shift to brilliant shades of orange. As the crowds thin, I experience a concurrent opening of the mind. It’s as if I can think again.

Day by day, hour by hour, it becomes once again … our town!

CATHARINE COOPER has lived in Laguna for so long she can’t remember when she didn’t. She can be reached at