We have been visiting the Gardens of Lake Merritt since we moved here when Emma turned two.
She has always wanted to grow up and be a helper in the bonsai garden.
The master gardeners have been very patient with her and over the years invited her to watch and learn.
During the pandemic she showed up a lot more often, willing to help out in any way she could. There was lots of sweeping and raking leaves which she loved.
Now they give her small jobs like weeding with tweezers. She likes being trusted with the care of their special trees.
The docents and gardeners are mostly older and appreciate her eagerness. They tell me she is very polite and always welcome.
For a child who is stuck at home with her parents it is a blessing to learn from someone new, and to see others faces light up when she visits.
Emma has been volunteering in the bonsai garden as much as she can. She used a chopstick and tweezers to remove moss, weeds and snails from the top soil of the trees.
We caught maiki in a family selfie on our outing. It’s sweet how much taller Emma is in each photo.
We had an afternoon of perfect 70° weather for a play date. These days the girls love to climb trees.
Making lots of yummy things in the kitchen, like this pot of beans that slow cooked in the oven. I have baked a lot of bread, including my favorite olive bread with rosemary and a pumpkin pie with rich coconut milk.
We found sweet freedom in being able to wander out of doors again. Weeks of heat and toxic air from smoke led me to fear the worst for our future. We are accustomed to social distancing practices from the pandemic but to not be able to open a window and breathe the air was too much. We needed this respite to stretch our legs again.