We are in Merced. This town is visibly having a hard time. Many empty storefronts downtown. A policeman stopped me as I was locking my bike to a traffic sign with a U lock to tell me that it would get stripped or stolen if left outdoors. We did lock our bikes at the library to do our show and they were unmolested. Our hosts last night in Chowchilla told us jobs and housing are scarce for low income people. We pass many almond orchards, some with new baby trees. Almonds, unlike fruits, require little human labor because the pruning and harvesting are mechanized.
I was told by someone in Fresno that sometimes all Merced ambulances are occupied responding to asthma attacks and unable to respond to other emergencies. Weather today is not as hot as it has been, and ozone levels are correspondingly lower, but temperatures will rise to 109 on the weekend.
Our audience of kids and parents at the library downtown were very enthusiastic, except for one infant who burst into tears during an episode of exuberant group howling. In our story, two dogs get instructions from a wolf at each full moon about what to teach humans to cut climate pollution. We have the kids howl along and cheer the dogs to give them confidence as they deliver their lessons. The show was followed by a regular library program where kids read to dogs. The dog's owner, who has been bringing her dog to be read to for several years, says she is amazed at how fast the children's reading improves when they have a nonjudgemental canine listener.
We've been working at learning how to do the show with one less puppeteer so our med student, Chelsea, can get to Sacramento tomorrow to attend an Air Quality Board Meeting. This afternoon we did about 3/4 of the show with 3 people. We have another show tonight in which to practice with Chelsea standing by to jump in if we stumble. Tomorrow we 3 will be on our own.