One of my birthday greetings on Facebook included a hope that I’d had sufficient chocolate. Ironically, since I live in a household where a bar of good dark chocolate is considered a necessary pantry staple, I didn’t eat any chocolate on my birthday. (We went out for dinner and the restaurant gifted me with some delicious creme brulee.)
But I did see chocolate, growing as beans on the pictured cacao tree in the tropical greenhouse at the University of California Botanical Garden. It wasn’t close to ready for harvest — there weren’t many beans on it — and hadn’t been processed into edible form, but it was a treat nonetheless.
I like low-key birthday celebrations, so this year we decided to visit the botanical gardens just up the road (and up the hill) in Berkeley. It’s a large place — 34 acres — and a diverse one, with more than 10,000 plants from nine regions of the world as well as a substantial number of California plants.
But to look at the pictures I took, you’d think it was all about deserts. Or maybe even that I’d spent my birthday in Arizona.
Here’s another one:
I did see these flowers as well. I believe they’re native to California:
I don’t know if visiting botanical gardens counts as forest bathing, but we did spend a lot of time among the many types of flora. In addition to landscapes based on different regions of the world and country, we saw a display of food crops, along with their place of origin, and another section of Chinese herbs.
The Japanese gardens, which included a pond and a creek, were especially relaing.
There were more people around than one sees when backpacking — and way more small children — but given that all of us were there to enjoy the plants, it was a mellow crowd.
It left us relaxed enough to face the rush hour drive from the hills above the university down to the city marina on San Francisco Bay. From the restaurant, we could see the port of Oakland, San Francisco, Sausalito, and Richmond, plus Alcatraz and three bridges: the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate, and the San Rafael Bridge (or, as they call it in Marin County, the Richmond Bridge). The wind was strong and the water was choppy, but we saw a lot of sailboats out for a sunset cruise.
Though mostly I just stared at the San Francisco skyline, watching the fog drift around it as I scarfed down oysters and fish, and polished things off with the creme brulee.