Communing with nature and … the neighbours!

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This post is really more about me than Sheila but given my subject, I couldn’t resist making this photo of her my title picture. It was taken at a glacier somewhere in Argentinian Patagonia earlier in the week and some of you may have seen a larger version on her facebook page. It has been copied at least twice and has winged its way over the internet, so apologies for the poor quality!

Crete 64 002On Tuesday, I realised that I had no oranges so decided that I would raid the tree which is outside my window. I would quickly add that it is our tree but I have hesitated to harvest oranges from it previously because it has been deprived of water for the last two years and the fruit is small and hard, even though I have watered regularly since we moved in .

However, needs must, so I picked three of the most likely looking candidates and headed for the juicer. Wow! Not only was there much more juice than I had expected but it was perfect – not too sweet and not too sour. Perhaps if was just that it was ours! But how good is that to have your own source of orange juice?

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Later in the day, I decided to check my avocado plant which I grew last year from a stone. Some of you may recall that during last summer it grew like a weed and was the picture of health.

Then, sometime in the autumn, I noticed that the leaves had lost their shine and were developing brown patches. It stopped growing and looked as though it had died, although only a few of the leaves actually dropped off.

Ignoring the advice of my nearest and dearest, I brought it with us to Kavousi and have kept it indoors during the worst of the winter but last week when the sun came out, I put it outside again. And yes, you’ve guessed correctly, it is beginning to throw shoots at the top again! I suspect it will lose the existing leaves but fingers crossed, it will start to grow again, now the warmer weather is here.

While I was outside, I admired the geraniums, which were transplanted with Maria’s help, just before Sheila left for South America.

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My usual walk with the dog in the morning takes me up a road which winds through olive groves to the top of the village. This is particularly attractive now because the almond blossom is beginning to come out.

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We then turn back at a church (one of many here) and drop down a rough track through ruined houses into the village and home. One day in the week, I renewed an acquaintance made with an elderly lady called Christina who lives along one of the turnings off the rough track. I guess that she is in her 80’s and not very mobile but she struggles down to the shop for essentials and to the bakery for her daily loaf.

Crete 65 015When I first met her, she was making her weary way up the hill to her house. She was wary of Bonnie, like most Greek people but now she knows that Bonnie does not bite, she stopped to talk and told me about her family, hardships and ailments. I didn’t understand most of what she said but she is interested in us and why we are here and where our children are. Obviously this is good for my Greek because there is no question of English being used but there is more to it than that. This particular day, she reached into her shopping bag and gave me one of two cakes that she had obviously just bought. This was a spontaneous act of generosity on her part and so typical of the people in the village. I was reluctant to accept but knew that to refuse would be insulting, so I thanked her and we went on our respective ways.

I was not long home when there was a shout at the front gate and the neighbour from behind our house had come to call. This is unusual. Evtikia (which means happiness in Greek) is 91 and when she wants something she usually shouts over the wall in the general direction of our kitchen door at the back. But this time, she was clearly a woman on a mission but firstly, she wanted to see what we had done to the house, so in she came and had a look round, clucking away to herself.

Satisfied, out she goes and heads for the back of the house, pushing past a vine which badly needs pruning. However, when I gestured accordingly, I was told very curtly “not before March”! Then she climbed the steel ladder up onto the roof having collected a tin plate from the wall, which she had presumably put there earlier. The roof to our house like most houses in the village is flat but it is on various levels. She heads for our kitchen roof and I am beginning to guess that she wants something done about her store which adjoins our kitchen.

I persuade her to let me have the plate and make her sit down (I did work in liability insurance for 40 years after all and she is 91!) and I clamber over to her roof and following instructions lift the flat stone off the chimney pot off and place the tin plate on top of the hole, replace the stone and then return to where she is sitting. So we park ourselves on the low wall and enjoy the morning sunshine as she rabbits away about wood. I never did understand but on reflection thought she might keep her firewood in the store and perhaps it had been getting wet.

Most of our immediate neighbours spend a lot of the afternoon sitting on a wall at the end of our close. I remarked to Maria one day as she brought round the latest batch of cakes that it was a bit like the Greek Parliament down there. She chortled away and then headed for the hustings. She clearly told the rest of them what I had said because there was much laughter and although I haven’t been tempted to join the Group, I am always engaged in conversation when Bonnie and I head out for our afternoon trip to the Beach.

So life here in the village is simple but never boring. And providing you make the effort to be friendly and try to speak a little Greek, the rewards are many.

John

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3 thoughts on “Communing with nature and … the neighbours!

  1. Mairi Marlborough

    Just realised that I posted my comment to this on your other(previous )blog. This was the one which made me think how lovely and stress free your Cretan life is

    Like

    Reply

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