before we moved to Vanak, we lived a few miles south of your neighborhood. Probably from 1963 to 68'. My parents rented the second floor of a two-story house. It had 2 bedrooms, a very large living room and a large kitchen.
A long balcony that spanned the whole south side of the apartment was my play area. You could access the balcony from my parents' bedroom and from the living room. I would build tents, covering chairs with blankets and play house. My sister was a baby, so not much of a playmate at that time. Or at any time, being honest. I never wanted to play with her.
So anyway, the tents were my hide-out. I would look out through the blankets into the backyard of our building and the ones to our left and right. Or I would watch the houses across the street.
At that time, there was still a lot of undeveloped land around these few buildings. The street that I could see from the balcony probably had only four or five houses on it, and that is how far it was asphalted. If you walked down to the unpaved part of the road and continued downhill, you would reach a valley, so green and lush, overgrown with Mulberry trees.
Traveling Nomads would roam through that valley with their goats once a year in spring. They'd pitch simple tents and let their herds graze for a few days. The women would walk up the road to the 'civilization' and knock on doors to sell goat's milk. We were not allowed to play outside when they were in the area, because our landlord had warned my parents that these people steal children. Now my mom, maybe because she is German (whatever that means) or not easily influenced by tales, would open the door anyway when they came by. But instead of buying anything from them, she would hand them old clothes. Most of the women had a baby strapped to their back and they were so grateful to receive the hand-me-downs. They called my Mom, 'Madamme' and my dad 'Mohandes'.
During the summer months my mother would send me and some neighborhood kids down to the valley to pick Mulberry leaves. We needed them for our silkworms. We each had received around 10 silkworms in a shoebox from our science teacher and were to feed them with fresh leaves until they spun their cocoons. I think we owned silkworms every year.
I loved my worms, which were actually caterpillars, not worms. They started out short and thin and grew into these thick white caterpillars. Their fat heads would bob up and down along the edge of the leaf and with what seemed like razor sharp teeth they cut semi-circles into the edges, chomping their way down to the vein and all the way to the stalk. I could hear them eat at night when all was quiet.
I liked to pick one up and feel its soft and silky skin. The little suction feet would grab my finger and it would lift its head as if to look around and check what had just happened. But I think it was just looking for more food. So off we had to go next day to collect more leaves.
And did you know during those summers, my future husband would be walking into the same valley from the other side to gather leaves for his silkworms.