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in the garden of bok choi and kale: juliana’s afternoon visit

In my childhood neighborhood, Ms. Penner occupied the white clapboard at the end of the block. She cultivated blood oranges and earth worms. Dr. Hobegger, who lived over our back fence, bred orchids. In these gardens and the prolific vegetable plot my mother planted each year, we learned the mysteries of earthworm digestion and pith and pollen.

The first morning in my Long Beach bungalow, I looked out the picture window to find a tribe of neighbor kids shrieking with delight at the wonders in the yard. This was the moment I knew that it would be a good home for me. I love the permeability of a life lived in a neighborhood—where meals are shared and the day’s stories are swapped on the sidewalks. And this is how I find Long Beach.

Pictured here, my sweet, multilingual, boxer-girl neighbor, who’s always up for teaching me something about the world we share.

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