clear sky


Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 48  |  June 15, 2021

Guest Column

From Laguna with Love: A view – with rooms

By Suzanne Spinelli

“Where?” I asked, surprised when my partner David said he was applying for a job in Southern California. It was January 2020, and the pandemic was only a minor rumbling in the background of our lives. I thought I was settled contentedly in Seattle, but as David’s interview process progressed in earnest, so did my restlessness and readiness to start something new.

We rolled into Laguna Beach in July – hot, exhausted, and with a very cantankerous 16-year-old cat in tow. We were lucky to find a place with room for our kids to visit and hoped that soon we would be able to take our UK-settled grandbaby for walks on the nearby beach.

From Laguna sky

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Submitted photo

Sunset parades with candy colors

Our home is cozied into the top tier of a cliffside neighborhood and, with its vertical structure, offers great opportunities for counting steps between Zoom meetings. But it was the view from the balcony that snagged the deal. Sweaty and frazzled after our long moving day, I looked out across the sand-colored roofs below me and out, out, out to the miles of sparkling ocean on display.

David put his arm around me and looked down with the half grin that still gives me butterflies. “Is this all right?” Tears pricked and I nodded. It felt like I could breathe a little again.

At first, all we could do was marvel at the blue skies and clear light that glittered on the waves and brightened the boats and planes in sharp relief. Then came the endless sunset parades with their candy colors and dramatically lit cloud banks worthy of a Hollywood close-up. Soon, we were stargazing and following the moon as it waxed and waned across the sky. Time passed easily in evenings looking for satellites and falling stars, and we laughed about not missing our over-saturated lives in the “before times.” 

I’ve grown to love the less in-your-face days too – when the soft mist rolls in from the sea and the quiet soaks into your bones. Even rain, something I thought I was over after 14 years in the Northwest, is magical as it dapples the ocean and paints the waves in silver and gray.

From Laguna cat

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Submitted photo

Cantankerous, beloved cat lands in Laguna, loves hummingbirds

My view has introduced me to a pair of red-tailed hawks, soaring each day from the canyon to the sea and squabbling with the cluster of crows who roost in the nearby palm. Hummingbirds dip and dive as they jostle for space at our feeder. Their daredevil acrobatics and iridescent colors bring smiles to me and a lot of chatter from the cat.

Over time I became aware of the accompanying soundtrack. The ocean waves are a soothing swish in the background on calm days and a thundering heavy metal crash when the swells are up. Evenings are accented with the calls of great horned owls and the occasional coyote howl. Every full moon, drummers on the beach below add a hypnotic counterpoint to the ocean’s steady murmur, and on a recent Sunday, the unmistakable wail of bagpipes amped up the drama of a glorious sunset.

We have been here nearly a year now and I still wonder at the ever-evolving panorama. It brings solace on the bad days and enriches the joy of good ones. And sometimes it can be truly astonishing as when, on a random Tuesday, the water exploded with thousands of fins flashing, stretching across the sea, it seemed, from Catalina to Aliso Beach.

“Dolphins!” I screamed, jumping up and down and grinning manically.

No one was there to share in the experience, but as our world slowly opens, I know that will change. I can’t wait to hold our grandson and share the wonder he experiences when he looks out, out, out beyond the horizon. You never know when that next amazing moment will come into view.

Suzanne Spinelli is a former journalist and freelance writer and is excited to be exploring writing again in this incredibly beautiful and welcoming haven. 

Organized by the Laguna-based nonprofit Third Street Writers, “From Laguna with Love” features personal stories (anecdotes of up to 200 words and longer pieces up to 750 words) and photographs that celebrate only-in-Laguna moments and experiences, whether they’re funny, sad, insightful, or simply a reflection of daily interactions.

If you or someone you know has a Laguna experience to share, you can submit your story or photo to:

Questions? Contact Amy Dechary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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