Back when I lived in Jerusalem I used to complain about the smog in the city, the over-crowded traffic, grimy streets and lack of yard space for children to play. There weren’t many single houses but there were loads of apartments piled on top of each other.
Throughout the week I would make my way to the various organic markets to purchase organic, unpasteurized goat milk, buffalo cheese, organic fruits and vegetables and a whole host of other items that I felt added health value to our lives. I also shopped at the open markets and felt a sense of connectedness to the produce, spices and meats being sold. I tried hard to overlook the flies and bloody hands of the butcher who never wore gloves when he prepared our meat for purchase.
With my few square inches of grass, we planted tomatoes, a fig tree and some spices. We bought a bunny on Janglo and allowed it to hop around the house since there wasn’t space for it outside. Our mini harvest was enough to feed our toddler with fresh tomatoes and the herbs did fairly well in the Jerusalem sun. During those days I’d moan about the need for fresh air, yard space for kids and all the gardening I would do if I had more yard space.
The time for living in Jerusalem quickly came to an end as my husband’s studies finished up and the Haredi Jews were amping up their terrorist demonstrations against the non-Jews and “illegal Africans who were moving into the neighbourhood. I wonder who they were talking about….?
We arrived back home in Bermuda where I was also surprised to find less grass and yard space then I remembered when I was a kid. I was happy when I managed to find fennel, butterflies and snails as these were becoming scarce on my island.
I made my weekly trips to the farmer’s market, scoured the grocery store for natural and organic items and purchased goat milk when I could afford it. I had given up on my expectation of consuming all-things-organic but as much as I could I ate healthy foods.
On Sundays we would scavenge the island for wild local fruits. The definition of wild being any fruit that was within reach or reasonable climbing apparatus. These fruits would become snacks for the kids during the week, jams, chutneys, syrups, cakes, pies or pancakes. Once again I bemoaned the lack of free space, the inability to purchase my own cow, and what I would do if I had more yard space.
My husband made a good go of planting what he could and soon we had peaches, figs, guava flowers and loquats growing in our yard seasonally. Some parts of the yard were off limits to us since he had also constructed beehives for honey harvesting. As the honey flowed so did the ants-many of them but it was ok because in my own way I was connected to the nature that I longed for.
As the recession hit harder and the glass ceiling began to feel that it was pressing against my head our time in Bermuda came to an end. We moved to Nairobi, Kenya. As we alighted the plane the thick air began to fill my lungs as the noisy traffic filled my ears. As we walked out of the airport I noticed the grimy sidewalks. Once again we were in the city. My first mission was to find an organic store. Thankfully even though we were in the city we had a little garden where we planted vegetables and had space enough for proper bunny cages.
A visit to Masai land afforded me a chance to get a milking goat-with Masai markings and all! We were still in the city so the goat would eat plants that were for decoration and bleat all day until someone came home and gave it attention. Let’s just say we weren’t the most popular neighbours in town…