My family and I used to live in a small bungalow in a six-level garden that my mom inherited from her father. The best way to describe the garden was a self-sustaining sanctuary. The garden was fed by a mountain spring, which first deposited water in a large, relatively shallow pool. From there, the water flowed down a central channel, which could be directed to each garden level for irrigation of fruit trees and vegetables. The water would eventually flow out of the garden and into the river, some 20 meters away.
The garden had some prominent tradition Persian features: more than two dozens fruit trees, 8 feet tall walls that created privacy and sheltered the house, and a pool that housed more than 40 mature Sarasa goldfish, some as large as 15 inches. We enjoyed a bounty of fruits that included cherries, apricots, mulberries, pears, persimmons, plums, pomegranates, and walnuts. We also grew tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and herbs. Snapdragons and nasturtiums had naturalized in the garden and produced showy flowers from late spring to early-mid fall.
We kept ducks and chickens for their eggs, but given that our place was close to the mountain we had occasional visitations from foxes and weasels, which meant that predator-proof chicken and duck coops were a must. A large number of birds visited our garden- both to have a drink and to find food. Watching the birds and their interaction with the garden brought me much joy.
These early life experiences and interactions forever changed how I see nature. I began to see the importance of co-existence with nature, the joy of growing one’s food, and the satisfaction in creating a place of beauty.