Beach Cats and Sawdust Summers

Labor Day has come and gone, tourists left town and kids are back in school. That’s it—summer is officially over despite what the calendar says. And despite living two blocks from the beach, this cat lady spent more time in Laguna Canyon (or just “the canyon” as locals call it) over these past couple months. When it comes to my favorite outdoor place to be, I used to think of myself as only a beach person. I spent many childhood summers hanging out at the beaches of Newport and Huntington.  I eventually made the beach my home, landing an apartment on Lido Isle in Newport Beach.  It was a charming little place built in 1941 and was part of a triplex situated on the small strand of beach facing the harbor.

This is where my crazy cat lady identity manifested, as I became known by the kids in the neighborhood as “the-lady-who-walks-her-cats”.  On several occasions these kids watched with marked curiosity, my former feline compadres, Punkie and Frankie walk with me on the sidewalk running parallel to the shore, which lead to a boat dock.  Frankie would follow me onto the dock where we would sit together and watch the boats go by.  Punkie would either stroll back home, or take a seat in the sand and wait for us. These adventurous cats also accompanied me on the beach, sitting next to me while I read or took in the view.  I was fondly called “crazy cat lady” by the couple next door; only the “crazy” part wasn’t about having too many cats.  You just don’t see too many gals strolling along the shore with cats dutifully trailing behind them.

Frankie and Punkie
Cat Lady sans cats but you get the idea. This is where they would sit with me, and in the background is the walkway leading to the dock in the far upper right corner.

Early morning at the dock. If only I had a photo of me and Frankie on it.

But after I moved to a neighborhood bordering Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, a preservation area of Laguna Canyon, I found myself going for hikes more than walks along the shore.  I was captivated by the canyon’s ancient rock formations, lush foliage and the scent of sage scrub and soon became enamored with my new earthy environment—and I’m still struck by its beauty.  

View of the canyon from Nix Nature Center after attending a presentation on birds of prey, where I met a couple of owls and a redtail hawk.

I also find beauty in the canyon off the hiking trails.   During the summer months I commune in the canyon while browsing through mini art galleries and listening to live music at an enchanted place called the Sawdust Festival.  The Sawdust, or “The Dust” as they called it back in the day came to be in the late 1960s by a group of artists who rebelled against the traditional juried art show in town and created their own distinctive and funky haven to show and sell their artistic wares.  The Sawdust’s rustic venue and flower child vibe that still lingers makes this place truly magical.  

Cat Lady and artist Shamus

Woodstock Day at Sawdust, singer/songwriters Kurtis Gentile and Alisa Eisenberg revive popular tunes from 1969.

The Heretics bringing back favorite songs from the ’60s through ’90s

Missiles of October rock the Sawdust

Blue grass melodies by The Salty Sweets

And the crowd goes wild on closing day of Sawdust.

I still love watching waves crash onto the shore and feel of sand under my feet, but to hike among sycamore trees and escape to a place where canyon walls harbor timeless creativity completely feeds my soul and keeps calling me back.

If only I could bring the cats.


About CatLadyintheCanyon

Author, passion for animals, Mother Nature, and music.
This entry was posted in Art Festivals, Laguna Beach, Live Music, Nature Hikes, Relaxing with Cats, Summer Cats, Summertime, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Beach Cats and Sawdust Summers

  1. Catwoods says:

    Beautiful cats and beautiful scenery in both locations! And that festival looks like so much fun! I do love the outdoor festivals. There’s an arts festival here every October and I always try to go, depending on health. And like you, I always think, darn, I can’t take the cats there with me!

  2. Hieronymus says:

    Very nice

  3. Jim Knudsen says:

    Well written Pam. I remember when you walked with the cats At Lido. What a relaxing time on the sand and watching the yachts go by. Tour blog also brings back beach memories. Wonder factual Beach area blog. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  4. Barbara Kaye-May says:

    I really enjoyed this one Pam. The photo of Frankie and Punkie on the back of the couch is so sweet. Very few cats will actually “go for a walk” – you were indeed lucky to have such intelligent cats. I can almost see you sitting on the dock with Frankie watching the boats go by.

  5. Gail Landau says:

    Pam! You’ve done it again. Vividly written; you took me right back with you. I just love Frankie and Punkie and there Mama. You have a magical touch with all your kitties; I’ve only had little “runners” who would never just hang out. Bravo to you, my friend. That Lido pic is gorgeous and the Sawdust memories are so precious to me. Even as a Chicagoan, we visited every summer. I just love how you write and WHY you write. You inspire me.

  6. Gail Landau says:

    *their not there, long day!

  7. trishmorse1 says:

    Such great photos of kitties, Lido, the Canyon & the Sawdust Festival!
    Beautifully written! I wish I could of seen Frankie & Punkie walking with
    you to the beach. Magical!

  8. Laguna is such a great place! I haven’t been to the Sawdust Festival in a couple of years. But always so much fun!

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