I started my life in Africa living in a little house, on a hill, called “Weedy Heights”. I have recently learnt the address of this home that I once knew, felt safe in and loved, but have not seen it since I was three years old. I have no idea whether it kept that name, but to be honest, I doubt it.
There have been times over the past five years or so, when I have referred to the home where we currently live in Britain as “Weedy Heights”. It too sits on a hill, has a sense of rootedness and history … and has many “weeds” (aka herbs and flowers in the ‘wrong’ place), which I allow to grow for the sake of the suffering wildlife and to bring natural balance into the barren environment here. The obvious difference between this “Weedy Heights” and the original one, is that the original was in the Southern Hemisphere and currently I am in the North.
Another key difference is that the fauna and flora are completely different, although there are isolated elements (like inherited floribunda roses) that are the same. And there is a severe lack of vegetation in the area where I currently live – much to my dismay. Our garden has sufficient self-sown trees in it to start a sapling business … if only I could lay claim to the barren hill behind us and plant them all there!
Another clear and often painful difference, is that I have no photographs whatsoever of my life at my beloved first “Weedy Heights”, but have thousands collected and moments recorded over the short time at our current home. My happy early childhood exists only as a few bell-clear moments in my memory, the rest relegated to rare and awkward recollection by my estranged parents, who divorced soon after we moved from the area, while I was knee high to a butterfly … and my whole world completely collapsed, then changed.
Perhaps one of the reasons that I responded so immediately to our current home when I first saw it, was that I recognised a sense of security in the presence of mature shrubs and towering trees within the property on our arrival – a greenness and a solidity that was all around my first “Weedy Heights”, its borrowed landscape lush, alive with flora and fauna, and deeply, magically abundant. I had a sense, when I first came to view this current home, that this was a garden one might play in. Something deep down inside me saw glimpses of prettiness lurking in the overgrowth, and I longed to explore.
When I was a tiny child, it did not matter that our garden was small (at least, I assume it was), because to me the whole environment around our home was a magical, green oasis of all that made the world right and good. On days like today, when the farmers in Britain are out spraying toxins across their vast acres with a tyrant’s vengeance, I want to pack up my treasures and just go home … back to Africa … even as far back as my darling “Weedy Heights” there … and start the whole journey all over again.
It breaks my heart to see what the landowners are doing to the soil, the Earth, the whole once-biodiverse environment and I know that I will not last long here if I do not see positive change. Where to go from here? My own country was in collapse, or I would never have left there in the mid 1980s. I long to return now, yet cannot – at least not while the political instability and soaring crime rates continue to escalate – but I go to bed at night wishing that at least one of my dreams could come true: A return home to where my heart truly is, or to see and feel the heart return to where we live now.
Some days the ache just will not go away.