Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sick as Parrots

Friday February 24th dawned bright and blue and warm. This was more like the kind of winter weather we expect when the sun's out. At 9.00am it was 15ºC outside and there was hardly a breeze; a day which demanded a walk. Since we'd planned to drop in on Graham and Elaine, a couple of friends who live along the coast road between Kiotari and Gennadi, we had the prospect of a forty minute walk and then coffee and (knowing Elaine) home-made cake if we were really in luck, which we kind of knew we would be.

Setting out down the lane we could feel the temperature rising as we walked and it was one of those moments that remind one of how sweet the simple life can be. A chiff chaff chirped its distinctive little "chiff-chaff, chiff chaff" song at us from somewhere off to the left and chaffinches flitted between the bushes on either side of the lane. Blackbirds worried in the undergrowth and birds of prey were catching thermals way above us. A kestrel took off from one of the telegraph posts beside the lane as we approached and we stepped it out with purpose, to get a bit of the old CV kind of thing going, which kind of makes the conscience feel better about the prospect of cake later!

Once down on the coast road we were grateful to see how low the humidity was, making everything crisp and sharp to the eye, a perfect day for photography...

 (Above: the "Bar" end of the Lighthouse Taverna premises, right on the beach at Kiotari.
You can't miss the Lighthouse if you keep an eye toward the coast, as there's a huge make-believe lighthouse on the roof of the taverna & visible from the main road. There could hardly be a better location for a chill-out lunch or cool beer)

As we walked along the road a huge Toyota pickup approached and I recognised the silhouetted driver within by his outline; neck-length wavy hair around an oval face, it was Dimitris "the horse" who, apart from owning a "ranch" up the coast a little, where tourists can hire his horses for a ride along the beach, also has hundreds of olive trees, some of which he'd allowed us to harvest  a couple of years back, with the help of his "man Friday" Massur. He drew up beside us, passenger window sliding silently down and reached out a hand to shake ours and exchange a greeting.

"Where did you harvest your olives this year?" He asked, after we'd exchanged "Pos Paeis" and "Ti Kaneises". 

"We didn't," we replied in unison, "...had to buy 35 litres from a friend in Kalathos. Bit painful, but still cheaper than buying retail."

"So, why didn't you harvest a few of my trees?" Continued Dimitris, at which we were surprised, to say the least. Each time we'd seen him over the past year or so we'd mentioned that we'd be happy to help him with his harvest, but he hadn't called or indicated that it would be "on", as it were, so we'd concluded that he didn't need any help, or that there weren't enough olives to keep him in oil as well as supply our need. A distinctly annoyingly clanging sound could be heard in my brain as a penny kind of dropped. 

"We thought, ...well, we didn't want to just presume. We thought you'd say if you wanted us this year." 

 "Listen," Dimitris said, "I did come by a few times, but you weren't in. I harvested 150 kilos of oil and just didn't need any more, so I thought you could do what you did two years ago, just go up to the valley by the homestead and help yourselves. If you'd done a few trees it would have been doing me a favour. I had to leave them in the end as I just had too many. It was a very good year."

Now, the thought that we'd just forked out for a full barrel of oil when we could have gone up to Dimitri's trees and harvested as much as we'd wanted brought on that "sick as a parrot" feeling in the pair of us. If only we'd been in when he'd called by. 

Still, there was a silver lining in this situation. What he was effectively telling us was that we didn't need to ask. If we wanted to do it ourselves, we'd be welcome to simply turn up with our tools and harvest what we wanted in future, a fact which he went on to make plain so there would be no misunderstandings in future.

On our way home a couple of hours later, stomachs full of Elaine's delicious home-made choccy Nanaimo bars, we consoled ourselves with the thought that next winter, all being well, we'd be able to replenish our annual olive oil cache with our own hands again, something which - although entailing hard graft - was infinitely more satisfying than admitting defeat and buying the miraculous liquid from someone else, however cheaply.

On our way up the lane we nodded to one of our neighbours...

He's the male of Gianni the butcher's pig pen, who has a couple of female consorts to keep him company. Just as well he runs away from us, as he's frequently out of the pen and I'd say weighs more than I do!!

Dunno if we can outrun him, so just as well he retreats when we approach. When we got home in the early afternoon it was 22ºC in the shade under our carport. Oh, the harshness of winter in Rhodes, eh?

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