101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 57

Today I sat down with the lovely Jessica – the culinary genius behind our amazing meals these last few days at camp.

She works as a caterer, catering different events and programs from beach weddings to summer camps for students. And let me tell you – she has a gift. She sources many of her ingredients locally – literally from her own backyard. She even made a plum chutney for us from her plum tree. It was delicious.

She showed me a picture of her garden, shaped like a mandala with concentric circles of nutritional goodness.

I don’t always have the largest appetite, but when it came to Jessica’s food, I never felt full. My appetite was at least three times as big, and I felt so nourished and refreshed after each meal. It was healthy and it was prepared with heart and soul.

Delicious brownies baked and prepared by Jessica and her daughter.
Delicious brownies baked and prepared by Jessica and her daughter.

Beyond harvesting food, Jessica has harvested plenty of wisdom over the years, some of which I was enchanted to learn from.

She told me about her life and described it to me in colours, as though woven through a tapestry over the years. “In my early twenties”, she said, “life was black and white. And sometimes there was a bit of grey”. She told me that those were the years when she would party a lot and drink, without thinking a whole lot about her deepest dreams.

Later, she lived in the mountains and became closer with nature, and she found her life evolving, taking on beautiful blue and green shades – the colours of life and growth and living.

Then, she got older and met her partner. Love entered her life with deep, full hues of red. She had babies — two lovely, wonderful kids named Maya and Caimen. She brought them along to camp and they were a delight to have around.

Jessica used to work at a women’s care centre. She believes that healing can come in many forms, and that good, nourishing foods can be one of the best healers of all. But the centre was a burdensome place to be in, in many ways. “It hurt my heart”, she said.

She told me about how working there made her realize that each of us is like a garden. We plant seeds of our own, with ideas and goals and visions that we create for ourselves. But some seeds end up being planted in our gardens by society, growing plans different than those we truly desire or intend for ourselves, sometimes without us even realizing it. When we acknowledge this, we must get down and dirty in the mud and dig the garden to be our own again. The more weeds that grown out of control, the more difficult the garden is to maintain. But no garden is too tangled to fix, and it’s never too late to grab a shovel and get on with it, no matter how thorny and robust the knots.

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