Another Summer in Lake Tahoe

I lay on my stomach on the bow of the boat, my hands dipping into the cool water when it surges. I am riding the gentle waves of the lake and all feels perfect. The sun is hot on my back and Alba is fast asleep. The patterns of the waves put me into a trance. I am smiling at everything.

The lake house where we are staying is a mansion of a cabin. Our bedroom window overlooks the woods and as I lay with Alba I watch for grizzly bears. The backyard dips down into the lake, reflecting the bright blue of the sky. It is cleansing after the last few days of smog in LA, and the stressful flight from Australia before that.

Alba runs across the lawn after a butterfly. She is quick on her feet now, I watch her and I see flashes of the little girl she is becoming. She pulls me into a hug and my eyes close tightly as our faces touch. All of her unexpected affection reminds me to be deserving and good. I know I am not always deserving. Doing this trip alone seemed a small thing back at home, but I’m quickly realising I was wrong.

It’s strange to think that I am here because of my passion. Because a young actress in Hollywood fell in love with my photographs when I was still in highschool and her Mama flew me over to visit. Now that glowing girl is Alba’s Sunmother and her family are like my own family. The luxury of this lifestyle is a contrast against the world of my upbringing, and I can appreciate both worlds.

I spend a lot of time watching the chefs cook. They are a beautiful pair who make the most beautiful food. There are always delicious dishes in excess for every meal and I give my appreciation in excess too, because I understand the hard work that goes into creating it. I eat slowly, savouring everything, remembering where it came from. The bags of organic produce from the markets on the counter, the berries being washed gently beneath the tap, the kale being massaged, the radicchio being peeled layer by layer, the dough being kneaded.

Nick and Alba dote on one another here and I am thankful for it. Alba traces the colourful tattoos on his arms, asking “drawing?” and he says “yes baby, drawing”. When she falls over he scoops her up and kisses her better and tells her he loves her. One afternoon she falls asleep on his chest on the trampoline on the lake and the moment is bursting with tenderness. He leaves earlier than the rest of us, and that day she runs to his cabin and stands outside his door calling “Nih” over and over but he’s already flying home to LA.

Alba takes a while to warm to everyone. I can understand her shyness, everyone and everything is new. But I still long for her to be trusting. To have my own space to breathe. Thankfully, at the end of the week she is completely at home, running around making everyone laugh, picking flowers to give away and talking in her own language to her new friends.

She’s learning new words every day, like strawberry and drawing and boat and cuddle and water, and it is amazing to hear her speak. When we skype with her Papa she spends the whole time covering the screen in kisses meant for him. How can it be that she is only one? It feels like she has been with us for so many years.

We take canoes out on the water. From the middle of the lake I take pictures and as I watch my friends through the lens I realise how important they are. They are so different to me in many ways, but I love them. I feel accepted here. I wish I could have a circle of friends this strong with me always, but instead they are scattered all over the planet.

One night I am particularly lonely. Alba is asleep and I am sitting on the grass by the water. It is late, the air is cold and my skin is goosebumped beneath my jacket. I am surrounded by beauty but I am too overcome with longing to notice. I miss my love and parenting alone has been tough.

Whenever I am feeling down I remind myself that I have the power to change it. So I run inside and see if anyone wants to go swimming with me. Most think I’m crazy, but two boys and Zelda’s Mum say they’ll come. We run down the dock and strip off. I throw myself into the cold air and then the icy water hits me hard, chews me and swallows me.

The water is so cold it feels incredible. I can’t stop giggling. I swim out in the blackness, laughing and feeling totally alive. After a while everyone gets out and I swim to the trampoline on the lake and jump into the night sky. When I join the others in the spa afterwards my teeth are still chattering but all my sadness is gone.

Everything is always so peaceful at the lake house, just like I remember. In the evenings Marsha is doing puzzles on the deck, the chefs are busy making dinner, music is playing and my friends are talking around the fire with glasses of wine. Being around them reminds me that I am 20, that the yearning for experience and connection is still unsettled in my chest. I am the youngest here and it’s strange how I can feel like a Mother and a child at the same time.

I hug Marsha for a long time when we leave. I can’t find the right words for how grateful I am to her so I try to put it all into my embrace. I don’t want to say goodbye so I tell everyone I will see them again soon. Alba kisses her tiny palm and blows a kiss goodbye.

We fly back to LA, sunkissed and happy-hearted, with more adventure to come.

96 love notes

  1. I’ve been following your blog for like ever..i remember waiting for your baby so well, its been as if you were really close friends of mine. Now I haven`t been here for a while though but nevertheless coming back feels so familiar! I love every single one of your pictures! They`re so full of emotion, passion and beauty of life that I seriously have tears in my eyes everytime I look at them! The most beautiful thing though is your baby! She became the cutest girl ever, I wish you guys allllll the best for your future!

  2. Hi Nirrimi, Matt, and Alba! Did you guys know that Morus Alba is Latin for white mulberry? I always enjoy how you all share your life with us.

    Love from USA,

  3. I found your blog this week and I must have devoured 30 pages in 3 days. Your life is a novel that I can’t put down and I thank you for sharing. You have reminded me how beautiful it is to bare your soul and I have vowed to be more open in my own blog, but it is scary. Don’t ever stop writing.

  4. Tahoe is about an hour away from where I live! It’s such a lovely place.
    Your beautiful life and work have been inspiring me for many years.
    Thank you.

  5. Too much beauty in one blog. Just. Too. Much.
    You inspire the faeces out of me. I hope to meet you someday, dear beautiful Nirrimi 🙂
    Much love.

  6. Pure Love from me to you and that precious baby of yours. I adore your life. I adore your beauty and perception on life. Its breathtaking.

  7. Just a thought… how did you manage to bring your DSLR to the boat and lake??? Did you put it in a waterproof bag or something? I’ve always wanted to bring my DSLR to water activities but am afraid it’ll get wet and damaged. Thanks in advance if you happen to see this and answer it. Hee.

    Btw beautiful photos as usual. Your baby girl’s eyes are stunning. Seems like all of you had a great time!

  8. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen! Including the most beautiful pictures ever! I’m so jealous & I literally adore your little family & yout life! Just want to have the same one day. Amazing!

  9. When i saw you had blogged again, I waited for a quiet moment when my youngest was asleep so I could take my time and read your words, and admire your photos.
    I can imagine how hard a trip this would have been to not have Alba’s papa there, but what amzing friends you have, and how content she seemed with them by the end of your trip.
    Much love, Rhi x

    Instagram @rhiannonjward

  10. How lovely Nim. It sounds as though you had a spirit warming time. Alba is getting ever more beautiful. I cannot believe the little girl I watched in wonder of is now so grown! Boy and I shall be in your neck of the woods rather soon. We should arrange an adventure together. xox

  11. As always, your words and images fill my soul and heart. Thank for sharing so much love with us, thanks for show us your art. You´re a great mother, and Alba is growing so happily, I can read it in her eyes. Lots of love !

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  13. It seems you are an old soul, and a beautiful one at that.

    It touches something inside me every time I you post, and I am again and again brought to silence when I see your photographs. You can capture true beauty in both words and pictures.
    Thank you for sharing.

  14. these images are beautiful and are how every summer vacation should be. the water looks so crisp and blue. all i want to do is dip my hands in the lake too. so serene, so beautiful, so full of life.

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  18. Nirrimi,

    Thank you for the beauty that you bring into the world with your words, photographs, and lifestyle. I absolutely love following your blog. It is a breath of truth in the wild world. <3 Thank you, thank you!

  19. Whenever i read your blogposts this calmness washes over me, you make me think about things i usually don’t think about, and ofcourse your photography is magical.

  20. You truly are a magician, there is no other explanation as to how you are able to transport the viewer emotionally into the world portrayed in your photos. I can’t pick a favorite, but if I must it would probably be the 3rd photo, there is so much wisdom in Alba’s beautiful eyes there – enchanting capture of her. 🙂 Thank you for the endless inspiration, Nirimmi! Both your images and words never cease to spread beauty(in all its forms). xxx

  21. Parenting is such an exhausting wonderful burden isn’t? I have always had respect for single parents, but it wasn’t until having my own child that my respect turned to admiration. Parenting solo is hard. period. I too often feel like a young mother, full of more questions than answers and yet, at 28 I’m not really young at all. I admire your honesty and grace. Being 20 is all kinds of exciting and feels like one open adventure, but it also is damned scary. I remember that feeling so vividly, like the earth was at once my oyster and also this large cavernous creature that might just eat me whole. And to be a mother on top of it all? I can only imagine. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and lovely pictures. The stories you spin out of ordinary moments are inspiring. xoxo

  22. Hello, Nirrimi
    I love your blog so much.. Your words and pictures are so beautiful! Almost everyday i come here to see if there’s new post and today it has so i’m very happy : ))) And Alba is so cute
    kisses from your fan from Brazil ♥

  23. i can’t express how much i like reading your words. even if we have very different lifestyles, your words sound so familiar to me, they make me feel home.
    you’re such a beautiful soul, nirrimi and i feel thankful for having the chance to take a peek at your lovely story.

    much love,


  24. Dear Nirrimi, how happy I was when I saw that you had posted something new. I love the tales of your adventures. Given that you take such beautiful pictures of the world around you, it is nor surprising that you can also put words on what you feel and see. Yet, it is not that granted, isn’t it. I can relate to many things you describe, being a mother and a child, I still do although I have two kids now. It’s life, I guess, it’s trying to be honest with oneself while caring for the others. I also know what you mean when you say your friends are scattered around the world,it is sad sometimes, and sometimes it makes you stronger. I hope you have more adventures to share soon, in the meantime love & light sparkling all around your beautiful family. Cristina

  25. Dearest Nirrimi,

    Your blog posts are the highlight of my whenever and the old wisdom in your young words are spellbinding. You are so relatable yet it feels like your life is happening in a fairytale.
    I want to thank you for being so vulnerable and brave, and for all the time you put into storytelling. You have been a great inspiration in terms of me wanting to create and learning to share as well.

    Life and light from Sweden

  26. So beautiful written, and lovely pictures – as always. Alba looks like the happiest little girl, and I can tell that she brings joy to her surroundings.

    Read about our adventurous roadtrip to Lofoten, and watch the beautiful shortfilm my boyfriend made!!

  27. I love your photos. There is some magic in them, silence and peace. I was waiting for your next post and when it appeared on the blog, I was very happy. You also write so beautiful, that I’m reading your posts many times.

  28. Wow, beautiful photos and beautiful words. Every post of yours moves us so deeply. Thank you for taking the time to update us all and we are happy to see you managed to overcome your temporary writers block and produce another mesmerising entry. Much love and kindness, C&C

  29. your blog has become my absolute favorite. i love your words. you are like a soul sister to me. i always look forward to your posts! thank you…xo

  30. Your blog is my favorite blog and every post makes me feel so happy and peacefully. I really hope you never stop writing. Greetings from Finland <3

  31. I can’t imagine how tough it would have been to parent Alba by yourself for a month, I couldn’t imagine taking care of my 18 month old without my partner for that long, but thank God for amazing friends to help! Looks like they were all in love with her.
    I am insipired by your positivity in tough times. And not to mention your amazing photos that draw me in each time. Such beautiful art, both your writing and photos.

  32. this post made me tear up. you always manage to covey such deep emotion so perfectly. you’ve reminded me (once again) that not only is life precious and beautiful, but also that we have the power to change something if we don’t like it. thank you <3 also, beautiful photos!

  33. I was just at Tahoe with my family this past winter. It’s a favorite of ours, but we never made it there in the summer. I’d thought, after our last trip, we’d try to make a summer trip, possibly next summer (2014), but we moved across country. Now, I feel certain someday we’ll bring the kids back for a real ski trip (after learning on much less $$ slopes here in the southeast), but I don’t know I’ll ever see it in the summer. That makes me a tiny bit sad. But, for everything a person gives up, one often gains more.

    I saw your FB message about the difficulty writing sometimes. I hope you’re not allowing some overly critical people who dig and are determined to make what’s now history into a case for why your present is not acceptable to cloud your ability to write authentically. People will judge you no matter what. People will try to make you question your own motives. That’s not always bad, since it’s good to look deeply at oneself and one’s choices, but you can’t second guess yourself all the time either. If you’re making thoughtful choices, then you’ll do alright. You’re still so very young, and, honestly, seem far more with it than I was in my early 20s. Keep on keepin’ on. ♥

  34. Seeing Alba in your pictures always puts me in a happy mood but also a mood where I feel tears in my eyes. She’s the most amazing, beautiful, funny and innocent little girl. I love the pictures where you capture her exploring little things like the cone in one of the last pictures in this post. It’s so amazing to see her really look at it with such a great interest in what it is and what it is for. It gives us a real insight into how a little child sees the world, it’s amazing!

    I’m glad you two had a lovely time at the lake. I come from the land of woods and lakes where I used to live for 13 years before moving to England and I always love coming back there. There is something so great and atmospheric about lakes and woods.

  35. Dear Nirrimi,
    Thank you for sharing this special and intense moments with us.
    It’s wonderful to just wake up, drink a hot peppermint tea from our garden
    and read your lovely words.

    with love, Tina

  36. Everytime I read your words, I am left with tears in my eyes. I have a son, on the other side of the world, just a couple of months older than Alba. The way you describe her and your love for her hits me so hard in the chest, it is like you are describing things I feel but can´t put down in words. I admire your courage to live the life you think is best: You are a true inspiration.

  37. Your photos and your story are so captivating. I feel like I am there with you. I wish I was there with you.

    Lake Tahoe – always been a dream of mine. It looks so beautiful!

  38. Oh God. Nirrimi, your life is so cinematic, the way you write is fantastic and every picture feels like a movie shot. It’s simply beautiful. I hope you keep inspiring me with posts like this. Lots of love.

  39. i always take the longest time to read your words, i savour every moment of your adventures. i can’t even tell you which i love more, your breat-taking images or your heart-warming stories. even though your world is so different from mine, i feel as though i can relate to your honesty. this post is so incredibly beautiful.

  40. Nirrimi every time I read your words they remind of what is true and beautiful in the world. Through them, I can feel your passion, sorrow and joy seep through the page and transport me from my life to yours and that is a truly special gift. Never stop this way that you have. I wish that we could be friends so that I could hear of your life firsthand and be transported into the world that only you and your family know. xx

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