Coastline Pilot/LA Times
18 February 2005
Chasing the Muse
“The Blessings of Two Horizons”
Feathery tendrils of rain-laden clouds press eastward across the sea, and as evening edges toward night, a crimson-cloaked horizon peeks through the darkness. I imagine that pirates and early explorers were soothed by such a sight which gave direction and bearing to their journeys. For me, the horizon has always held the promise that there will be another day.
When life seems confusing, what better place to find solace than the beach? Not the sand nor waves - but that mysterious and seductive horizon line which separates the domain of sea and sky. I can weep or wail – laugh or shout. The horizon never argues, never comments … never tries to make what seems to be wrong - ‘okay’. Its constancy assures me that there is more to life than whatever issues I wrestle and that the world is infinitely larger than my small backyard. I suppose in some way, that the sea and its edge are my church, my confessor, my personal connection with the creative force.
In Laguna we are blessed with two types of horizons. The first is the window we hold to the west, broken on clear days by the graceful silhouettes of Catalina and San Clemente Islands. The second is our greenbelt, a glorious shoulder of open space to the east, which given our rains, has fully fleged to its title of ‘green’.
To wander on the undeveloped ridges and dip into the creek and sycamore sheltered paths of the canyons is to step away from the frenzy of our everyday lives. This open space functions for me in a similar fashion to the sea and its horizon. Here is the songbird, the grosbeak, the swooping dive of the red-tailed hawk. Here is the deer, the coyote, the raccoon and lizard. Here is a space for recreation – hiking, biking, birding, plant identification, and geology. Here is a space for contemplation and renewal. Here, nature does not argue with my thoughts, nor provide manufactured solutions.
John Muir, the noted naturalist, is often quoted, “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
What he saw, in the wildness that he sought to protect, was the healing power of lands unmarred by man. Again, he writes, “I went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
Three cheers for Supervisor Tom Wilson, who this week took a stand in favor of the local wilderness, a source of our renewal. Against money and the power of development, he bellowed a resounding ‘no’ to those who would carve a golf course from the hard won open space of Aliso & Woods Canyon Wilderness Parks. He protected - at least for the moment - one of the aspects that make living in our extended neighborhood special.
One of my favorite hikes is the ridgeline trail above Laguna Canyon. The Wilderness Park spreads like a rich carpet to the north and east, and in most views, the housing tracts are hidden. The sea reaches westward, and its horizon beckons, simultaneously an old and new friend. I find am wrapped in what Muir referred to as ‘freshness’, and like him, I’d like to stay out all day, for what I’ve found is a reconnection to the power that is within.
I’d like to take a moment, to thank each and every person who has put his or her time and energy into policy development, land acquisition and usage regulation, to ensure that our Open Space has remained – open. And to the on-going efforts of those who would protect the oceans, the skies and the overall environmental health of our city – and on a broader scale, our home planet.
It is because of the efforts of many that we are able to walk the shoreline and hike the canyons. It is my hope, that in the personal experience of these horizons, we discover our ability to reach and grow, and better understand ourselves and our roles in this conscious journey we call life.
Catharine Cooper loves wild places. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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