Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Fleeces and Flowers?

The view over the steering wheel on my way back up the lane to the house earlier today.

I know I'm probably in danger of over-repeating myself, but I've been out in the car for an hour and have just got back to the house, and the drive to Kalathos and back, plus the pleasant hour spent with good Greek friends, has further strengthened my conviction that I love this time of the year more than the summer.

I didn't stop on the road, but could well have done so every fifty metres, to photograph the anemones, which are a riot this year, especially along the roadside verges. Next time I get the opportunity I'll pull up, hop out and snap some, but for the time being you'll just have to take my word for it - they're a spectacular show. Oh, I dunno, maybe this will help...

Photo courtesy of Farmer Gracy.
Last year they were very few and far between, owing to it being the second dry winter in succession. This year, though, with the rainfall being a lot nearer normal, the anemones have responded enthusiastically. Outside today it's around 18ºC and partly sunny/partly cloudy, with a gentle breeze. It's a mild day, ideal for walking, which we do a lot of in the winter.

Everything around us here this winter is a wonder to behold. The green of the vegetation and grass among the olive groves is so vivid as to almost be describable as day-glo. The bird and other wildlife is more evident, I'm sure, owing to the food chain being better serviced by the increased rainfall and the effect it has had on the vegetation and insect life. The roses in the garden are putting on a superb show and my wife keeps a regular vase of them in the kitchen to brighten the place up no end...

OK, so, for 'vase' read 'glass tumbler'!

When I drove back up the lane, there was the shepherd with his sheep, leaning back on the bonnet of his very old Renault Scenic and talking on his mobile phone. He does that a lot, but then, when you consider how many hours he spends simply hanging around keeping an eye on his flock it's understandable really. That's why, in ancient times, which prevailed right up until the advent of the mobile phone really, shepherds were not only excellent musicians, but could often make their own instruments too. As I crept by, being careful not to hurry the sheep and lambs off of the lane [see top photo], he raised a hand to acknowledge my passing and I replied with a similar gesture.

The baby lambs are in abundance now and we (old softies that we are) delight in watching them gambolling all over the place in little groups, much like children in the playground, although ever under the watchful eye of their mothers, to whom they run occasionally for a brief feed, which they'll take while wagging their tiny tails furiously. I don't think we ever use that verb 'to gambol' at any other time of the year, but when the lambs are about we dust it off again. The lambs here are blissfully unaware of how much easier their passage into this world is by comparison with those up on the North Wales mountains, or the Yorkshire Dales in the UK, where their cousins are battling with snowdrifts during the first weeks of their lives. Well, I know they are usually gathered into barns, but I do recall past TV reports of farmers losing sheep and lambs to the cold quite often.

Here on Rhodes, during these months, when everyone has time to breathe, it's a joy to be out of doors most of the time. Even the locals are in an entirely different mood from the one that dominates during the season. Right now, in January, to drop by and see some friends is almost the definition of 'to steki', where bonhomie prevails and they'll always say 'come on in', and put the coffee on. Maybe there is fresh bread being baked too.

Go anywhere where there are coffee bars and experience the cacophony of 'parea' being enjoyed by people who have, by comparison with the summer, a real life to live; once they've harvested their olives that is.

When I got home and walked into the house I was greeted by the heavenly smell of freshly baked bread. That's something my better half can do during the winter months. She definitely doesn't have the time in summer.

Better be off with me then. Got to make us a salad for lunch, which we'll eat giving thanks as we gaze down the valley, hear the sheep bleating and their bells clanging, as we chomp away on warm bread and fresh lettuce from the garden.

There is a lot wrong with this world, but now and again everything's just perfect.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree John that's why we keep returning to Lindos in January, absolutely love it. Roll on Saturday when we fly to Athens for 2 nights before flying down to Rhodes on Monday for 12 nights. Will watch out for you when driving through Kiotari. Karen and Brian (2 of the hardy holidaymakers)