A tough photo challenge this week for me. I was kind of stuck until my son reminded me of this wonderful photo that was taken when he was 14. The lighthouse peninsular on Spetses hosts about a dozen metal sculptures hidden among the pines trees or out on the rocks. Interacting with the art is a given. You want to pose with the mermaid or crawl on top of the chain mail sheep. Here’s my entry this week:
And a few more just to show off the uniqueness of the place:
I considered lots of approaches for this week’s challenge: clocks, ancient places, ancient faces, timeless graces… but I think I like the idea of the passage of time the most. Every year Latham and I take a picture for his birthday at the gate of our Greek home. Here is the passage of time over twenty years. Time indeed waits for no one. And what a story it tells!:
My favourite routine each evening was to have dinner on the front patio looking out to sea, watching the sun’s orange glow slowly dip and disappear. For a short while, as the sun descended, the horizon displayed fantastic shades of purple, which sadly faded as the light gave way. The orange moon ascended and turned white. This year the municipality turned off half the island’s street lights to save money, so the moonlight featured even more above our darkened view of the town below. Every night the lunar show was repeated but every night it was a little different.
As the days passed and our evening moon became fuller and fuller, media chat started about the forthcoming blue moon, which was just an expression to us before. We learnt, like the rest of the planet, that its the rare second full moon in one month, and we decided to spend it on the beach.
I loved how brightly the blue moon burned and lit up the rocks on the beach. We barely needed the lamp.
Fifteen years ago when we lived year round in Greece, if you needed thread, pillows, tableware, fabric…just about anything really…you went to Harrods to see if they had it in stock. If it was on the island at all, Harrods was often your best bet. The British community had affectionately dubbed it after the famous Knightsbridge store in part because it was the was the general largest store on the island and had seemingly be around for ever. And in part, I think, because it highlighted just how limited our shopping options were at that time.
Inside the store was a fascinating mix of old style retail design with funky old Greek products and modern items from all over the world. The main sales counter also doubled as the haberdashery section with bolts of cloth on spools lining the wall behind the cashier. The main floor was covered in motley displays of everything: men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, lingerie, bathing suits, pressure cookers and reels of floral plastic sheeting that Greeks love to use to cover dining tables. Above, a traditional narrow mezzanine floor stored boxes and dusty old promotional posters for 1970s L’Oreal products and Sloggi underwear. It was a time warp, and there was nothing else like it.
Twenty years before I remember several similar department stores in Athens. Some still had wire or cash carrier tubes to carry cash and receipts and the same old-fashioned mezzanine floors. They are all gone now as far as I now, but Harrods lived on, at least until about five years ago when I returned one summer to find it closed. One summer soon I expect to return again to find it gutted, characterless and selling $400 designer jeans. Its the way the world turns I suppose, but I would love to get another peek inside at its faded glory and its glimpse of another time.
We spent a very fast month at home in Greece. When we arrived it seemed far longer than just a year since we were last there. The events during our last three months in Nepal left us desperate for some peace, quiet and calm, which Spetses has in abundance and we desperately sucked in.
Unusually this year, I never went out to hike and explore, which is one of my favourite things to do. It wasn’t an effect of the earthquake but a small, persistent injury that kept me from the hiking trails. So this year, I just focused on the simple pleasures of the low-hanging fruit – both literally and figuratively.
Oh the Greek fruit and vegetables! How I love thee! And how I loved shopping in the local twice weekly market, seeing fresh, abundant produce piled high on the tables. They glistened in the early morning sun and screamed “buy me”… even calling out suggestions for dishes I could make. That’s how good they are!
The contrast between the Nepal I left and the Greece I find myself in couldn’t be more stark, although the journey has been from one crisis to another. As I left Kathmandu, the city was settling back to its old chaotic self with record traffic and loadshedding a-plenty. The schools had returned, a demolition effort had removed the more visible damage, and remaining remnants from the earthquake’s devastation just blended together with the old, broken, and partially-constructed ramshackleness of the pre-earthquake city. At least on the surface, things looked back to normal.
Here –at least superficially — there is no crisis in sight. The air smells of Greek pine-y fragrance, the crickets are making their usual racket, the July sun beats down and the cross winds blow through our house sending dried bougainvillea flowers scuttling down our path. I watch the sea sparkle and little boats chug by in the distance. Its peaceful, beautiful, and a wonderful place to be.