We don't have a garden. We have a largish balcony, but because our flat is on the ninth floor and faces factories we don't use it very much. On some days we have a beautiful view - we see the Anatolian landscape for miles, hills after hills after hills. But on most days, the pollution means that our view stops at the factories.
On the other hand, we have a big campus, which, despite the fact that we are in central Anatolia, a semi-arid region, which is often covered in snow for three months and completely dry for another four or five, is a green green campus full of trees. You can imagine the amount of water that gets wasted keeping that up! But we do love it and especially enjoy the way each season is clearly marked by changes in the landscape.
I've written already about the kind of wild flowers that grow here in spring, and about the fruit we pick in the summer. So let me take you straight to the autumn and the winter.
Part of the walk I take with my son most weekends to go to the park and then to the supermarket is lined with apple trees. They're not quite crab apples, because they taste allright, but they're tiny. They look like this:
The trees turn pretty colours, like this:
We love our trees and they do much more for us than provide shade, food, and spashes of colour. They're also the children's favourite climbing frames.
As soon as winter comes, the trees turn into fairy tale pictures and I can't look at them without thinking of the Snow Queen, Narnia, and Christmas. I wrote about the snow in Ankara before, but didn't post pictures then.
Waking up on a morning after snow is a wonderful feeling. It's a bit like what you expect Christmas to be like, wide-eyed children tiptoeing around a present ladden tree. Of course Christmas is never like that. Christmas is about over-excited children and sleepy parents. But snow still does it.
You wake up and every thing is quieter, softer. You can almost hear the silence behind the noise of the factories. Then you peak out the window and you see the big-as-eggs, fluffly, lazy flakes filling up the sky. You look down and you wonder if the world has disappeared! Snow has covered everything. The road, the trees, the cars, the roofs, the mountains in the distance. The snow ploughs haven't been yet, and the few cars that managed to drive past didn't make deep enough tracks that you could see the road.
Then you child wakes up. He's slept longer because of the snow. If he has woken up grumpy in the past, or worried because he doesn't want to go to school, you know that today he'll be okay. He opens his eyes as wide as they will go and says quietly, because his smile is streched too far to let much noise come out: 'Il neige'. Then the snow pants and snow boots and snow gloves come out, and we go down a bit earlier than usual to play in the snow before school.
At school, they'll have even more snow than here - they're a bit further out towards the middle of nowhere, and snow likes it there and settles. If the snow's too heavy, they won't be able to go. The buses can't pick them up and school is cancelled. Even though we have to work, and it's difficult to figure out what to do with the children when that happens, I can't help a joyful feeling or two at the news - I would have so loved to have snow days when I was a child!
And after school, or at the weekend, we'll go to a grassy hill near our house, that the children call the green mountain. And it's no longer green and the slopes are just right.
I love the trees and the flowers on campus. They almost make up for not having a garden. And frankly, given how many pot plants I've managed to kill since the children were born, it's probably just as well we don't have one! Some people here do. The university has an allotment system, where ecologically friendly techniques are encouraged. People grow deep red tomatoes and wrinkly dark green little cucumbers. Peppers, strawberries. And the clever ones will plant coriander, which is so hard to find in Turkey. This is nice. But I wish that this concern for the environment was not limited to the allotments. For one thing, the smoke coming from the factories opposite us makes it seem like a miracle that anything at all grows around us. Then there's the constant spraying for mosquitoes. Last time I walked past my favourite weeping willow, it was bare.
The campus may look like a lush oasis, with it's fruit trees and green grass, but take a few steps on the outside, and you're quickly reminded what central Anatolia is meant to look like. Like this:
This is where we see the wild flowers, where we pick mountain sage, and lemon thyme and wild rocket. And truly, this is what I love best. This is my garden.
This post was written for Josie's Writing Workshop at Sleep is for the Weak. The prompt was to write about taking a walk through your garden, real or imagined.
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