My grandparents were the landscapers when we moved to our "new" house a little over 10 years ago, so our backyard has been turned into an Asian garden fiesta. I believe the only thing that we had to actually purchase were the seeds, tools, pots and some wires to act as blockades to the unremitting little rabbits and deer. The rest was gathered by my grandparents from neighboring home-construction dumping sites: rocks to pave paths, wood to build wooden beds, the home-made shed, poles for vines, and string and nails to secure everything together. Other people's trash becomes my grandparents' treasures. I believe that our garden is the DIY heaven. However, 10 years really does something to a garden; now, grass and greens have penetrated our paved paths, making it seem like a camouflaged road, the vines have climbed all over the wires we hooked from tree to tree, draping down like miniature weeping willows covering a canopy every spring, the tree branches my grandparents braided have morphed into compliance, but most of all, the weeds have proliferated since the stop of constant care. But still, I'm very glad that the Japanese beetle epidemic has died down so now I can eat my Chinese cucumbers knowing that we did not use any pesticides. I love our garden. Nature has taken over and beautified it even more.
Nature struck again when this year, I found that our main "canopy" had a new species on it. It was the lilac/lavender flowers that I see everyday coming to and from school on the highways. After my vines suffered a week or so of lavender colored invasions, my grandparents finally spoke of the flower's faint familiarity. All along, it was the same flower that my grandparents picked and ate back in their village in Northern China. The manifestation of purple only lasted for another week before we ate it clean.
|Look at what Nature has brought us here!|
|Closer look! Looks venomous? Just kidding! It isn't!|
|Chomp Chomp Chomp. Done!|
To tell you the truth, I didn't like to eat it one bit. Something so vibrant in color should have a stronger taste than... tastelessness! But nevertheless, I still held my breath and ate it, knowing that it was organic and exotic, characteristics my taste-buds crave (even though my mind was confused by the aforementioned point). My point is that there is no excuse for people to be hungry because, look around, everywhere has the potential to grow food. I was enlightened by this point at my first meeting with Maurice; he turned around and pointed to the school roof and said, "we can grow food there!" then he turned back around and pointed to the semi-empty parking lot and said, "and there!" Nature has made the places capable of growing food almost, if not completely, ubiquitous. We must be open to this potential and embrace the number of possibilities we can gather and implement.
My grandparents were at it again with their creativity. This time, they found several mulberry trees on the side of a road, one day, and decided that they would take some berries home and grow their own mulberry trees. Sounds, like possibilities for them are imminent, no? Well, all I have to say is that they take advantage of everything around them. I admire their ability to recognize that everything has potential. This is how I work and think, now.
With my grandparents back in China, my father there as well for a business trip and my sister at school (NCSSM!), our flourishing mulberry trees had no tenders. So, my mother and I decided to take on the roll. My mother was outside for a while before I joined her and she already had this much picked:
|Simultaneously picking and eating! Talk about a multitasking mind and body cleanser.|
|She only went around picking the ones closest to the ground... we weren't even 1/3 done...|
|2 Mulberry trees = a LOT of work. Oh how much we needed to know about Espalier when we planted these!|
|Deliciously juicy... all natural!|
|Blend 2cups of freshly picked mulberries and 2-3 ice cubes and you have yourself the sweetest natural smoothie you have ever tasted!|
|There was a tiny bug crawling along the bowl before I snapped this pic... must have carried it in from the picking! But hey, bugs have a ton of protein so... bon appetit!|
Just one hour and one tree produced a couple day's worth of fruit for our fruit devouring family! Now, that compares to the average week's intake, I'm guessing, which is a LOT! The sad part was that when I went to NC State for AP Exams in the beginning of May, when mulberries become the juiciest, there were mulberry trees around every corner I walked. Why is that sad? No one was picking them! All the juicy and anti-oxidant rich fruit were going to waste just like that! As I walked, I counted about 5 of them. Passing under each one, I winced every time my shoe crushed and squished an innocent and nutritious berry. If just one hour and one tree could satiate a family for a week, think about 5 hours for each of the 5 trees! That's 25 families! Sigh...
Remember that huge snowstorm that kept school and work out for a week? Well, there were several this year, which was very odd for NC, but I'm talking about the one in February. Fine, almost all were in February, but this section of this post is about the snow storm that happened around Valentine's Day.
This was the week that Fencing Junior Olympics, in Portland, took place. The night, around 11PM, before it started snowing, my mother made a split-second decision to get me on a plane the next morning so I won't get snowed in. All I can say that, with pure luck and a mother's incisive intuition, my father and I were able to snag 2 seats on the first and almost the last flight out of RDU. We made it to Portland safely. Unfortunately, my mother got stuck coming back from work that day for 5 hours and my sister was stranded for a couple days at school in Durham.
When I got to the Portland Greater Convention Center, one of the first things that I noticed, other than the magnificent architecture, were these bad boys. Now, looking back at this picture, I know exactly what Justin from CompostNOW was talking about with the 3 cans. I examined it's beauty and compactness and pure genius architecture and utility. At this time, I was setting my mind on wanting to integrate trash bins like these into schools, so this was a prime example for me to emulate.
|Portland, Oregon, is surely developing in the right direction. Come on NC!|
Hopefully, you have gotten this far... long post, I know. But I feel that it is necessary for us, especially as living beings in a society that needs some work, to look around and notice patterns, notice all the possibilities around us and notice the lack of food infrastructure (not only food!) we have right now. "Food" isn't in the form of what is on our plates every breakfast, brunch, lunch, linner, and dinner, it is a cycle: from the ground and trees, to the factories (sigh... processed food.............), to the stores, to our cars, to our refrigerators and pantries, to our recipes, to our plates, to our trash bins (should be compost bins), to our landfills, etc. What we have right now is all we need to get started. We just have to make everyone else more aware of the fact that anything is possible and issues like these are only changed with inspiration, motivation, dedication, and concentration.