Sunday morning December 15th. It's starting to warm up a little now, the weather that is. Still only 4ºC during the night last night though, but as I went outside to tip the ashes from the log-burner on to the compost heap and take the air whilst gathering fresh kindling and logs so as to prepare the fire for tonight's cozy session, it felt a lot warmer than it had a few days ago, when there was that "bitterness" in the air that cuts through you.
It's another one of those mornings, though, when the light's so beautifully clear that you just want to stare at everything in creation. More particularly, I wanted to stare at our little lemon tree near the car port. It's been in "situ' now for several years, each year attempting to grow into something resembling an actual tree and each year thinking better of it. Twice now it's put forth a tiny green lemon that we'd hoped would be the first of many. On both occasions they've stayed about the size of a large olive, turned black and fallen off. This year, however - success!! we have one lemon!!!! There is a tree out in the orchard that's been producing for several years, but this little one near the house has struggled to get itself going. Now, though, it looks like its roots have finally scythed their way into the rock-hard earth and it's decided that it's going to make a go of it.
Quick as a flash, I was out there at 9.00am with the iPad and I snapped a few piccies...
|This is the best rose in the garden, always sending up wonderfully fresh-raspberry-smelling blooms in wintertime|
|A result!! Soon to be gracing a long tall glass containing an enjoyable recreational tipple.|
In fact, I took a couple more...
|There's our little lemon tree, cute eh? It's taken it years to get to that stage! At one point a couple of years ago it had one leaf and we thought it was dying. Never give up!!|
|Green enclosure = veggie patch|
|Fresh grapefruit from the tree in the orchard, a-ma-zing. (Where's Craig Revel Horwood when you need him?)|
After a few days of really chilly weather, even in the daytime sunshine, it's now set to return to something like normal temperatures for this time of year. Yesterday we were able to take lunch out on the terrace, so that was encouraging. But, as usual, (same in the UK and probably across the whole planet), when you get a few cold days and nights, someone will always say, as did Anthoula, a friend of ours from Kalathos, just last Thursday evening, "It's gonna be a cold winter!!" Soothsayers all, I say. I'm firmly convinced, however much we like to watch the long-term weather forecasts, that no one, not even the meteorologists, really knows what it's going to be doing more than 48 hours in advance. Witness the fact that as you follow the ten day forecasts on the internet, they change so much as the next week approaches that a day you'd looked at seven days in advance often bears no resemblance weatherwise when it arrives to that which was foretold a week earlier (pauses for breath).
I like to think I'm pragmatic. I'll take it as it comes. Get the cocoa on...
If you've been following this piffle for years, you may remember a post, which has now become chapter 41 in "A Plethora of Posts" [Get Your Ya Yas Out], wherein I refer to a friend of ours from a village not too far from here. She's called (names changed to protect my bodily integrity) Despoina, has a voice, as described in the above mentioned chapter, like Chris Rea mixed with Rod Stewart, with a bit of Peggy Mount thrown in, in other words a raspy foghorn, and is only four years older than my wife, but that didn't stop someone we bumped into in Rhodes Town once asking Maria if Despoina was her mother. My wife spend the remainder of that particular day feeling very pleased with herself.
Anyway, Kyria Despoina is very large of girth. In fact, when I see her from the rear I'm often tempted to smash a bottle of champagne against her ample rump and declare "God bless all who sail in her!" She walks with a permanent waddle, which would make me seasick in no time. When she's in the car with us I often feel like my ears are going to implode, she's that incapable of talking quietly. All that said, she's a lovely person and has a very hard life, which is why we try and do little things for her when we can.
A couple of days ago we were driving along with our corpulent friend spread across the back seats and we had the hi-fi on quietly. We always turn it down if we have passenger in the back, manners and all that. Well, as it turned out we were playing a recent album by Vasilis Karras, one of Greece's biggest current singing stars in the "Laika" genre. That is, predominantly Bouzouki music and traditional rhythms, the kind you dance to in the Bouzoukia. I'd never really thought about Despoina's musical preferences, or even if she had any. So she surprised us somewhat by saying "Turn it up! I love music, I always have."
Well, not needing much encouragement, my wife spun the volume knob and Karras was soon belting out even louder than Despoina talks. A moment later and I was listening to Karras, accompanied by the two women in the car with me, both of whom knew all the words to the songs. "When I hear this I want to dance!" declared our passenger. "I always danced when I was younger. I had my team, you know." Just then a Hasapiko started and Despoina continued, "We used to practice for hours. You have to have four to dance the Hasapiko, and everyone dances it with different steps [a fact which we were already aware of, since we do a basic version, but it's different from every version we've witnessed on Rhodes, my wife's family hailing from Athens], so I had my team. We would wow the boys I tell you. When I was 19 I'm talking about now. Long time ago."
Then came a Tsifteteli, the belly-dance that the Greeks have kind of adopted from the Turks. My wife, though I say so myself, does a mean Tsifteteli. It's the most popular dance in Greek nightclubs, where you'll see girls by the dozen girating all over the place. Occasionally a brave bloke will pitch in and do it too, but it's very much a lone dance really. Hands stretched aove their heads, fingers clicking, the girls hips are going this way and that, legs bending then straightening again. It's a mesmerising dance to watch, so I hear (ahem!).
Despoina continued: "I used to do this so well that they'd always put me on the table," I'm proud to state that this has been my wife's experience on numerous occasions too, "I remember one time they kept giving me ouzos and wouldn't let me get down off that table. I tell you, I must have drunk 20 ouzos!! What a night. I ended up with my butt on the floor and my feet still resting on the table. I don't know how I got there."
At this point my imagination was running rife. I couldn't quite imagine how slim our friend must have once been, so I had this mental picture of her up there on that table in the shape she is now. Boy, would that have had to be a strong table.
For all the possibilities in a scene like the one she'd described though, from my own experience I can say that it would have been quite respectable. Let their hair down they certainly do, but I'm still amazed at the respect they accord women, at least in the more rural areas and on the islands.
"We gotta go to a Bouzouki one night!!" declared Despoina. I couldn't help thinking that it might be a pretty good idea. It would probably be a night to remember, that's for sure!
And the tables in the establishment are going to have to have steel legs.