The hot and sultry days of late, provoke a tendency to lull around idly, the only urgency seemingly, is the necessity to avoid the heat. It can also result in the “Cretan Shuffle”, generally done in flip flops, (ie the sound of footwear being dragged across the floor whilst walking), accompanied by various huffs and puffs. Grappling with these constant high temperatures, and what appears to be the perpetual existence of the “Meltemia“, seems also to create a “dry spell” in my flow of recipes.
So off I go to my favourite village to call in at the local kafenion for a dose of Cretan life and a coffee.
Whilst sitting and perusing the every day happenings from my advantageous position, nothing seemed unusual, yet, the events are far from normal, they`re special, unique, adorable.
Observing a row of middle-aged moustached Cretans seated in a kafenion, one of whom had bartered a bag of small hard pears from a passing peddlar. Sharing his prize with his companians, they sat in a row, observing the world go by. Three portly torsos, each with hairless domes, sheeny from the relentless afternoon heat, chomped away at the hard pears, rotund jowls munching, making fat lips bulge and jut, moustaches bobbed and jounced in unison, like a line of mellow walruses. I smiled quietly at this enjoyable scene.
The swifts swept down low over the diminished water along the riverbed. Vibrantly coloured dragon flies dipping amongst the reeds.
Also grappling with the constantly high temperatures, are our three dogs. Claiming dibs on the heels of the receding sun, where shadow profers cool afternoon repose amongst the flower beds, only to be begrudgingly forced to move on, as the automated watering system kicks in. Demmi, emerging from his muddy wallowing hole, trails a muddy path across the tiles, worthy of a scene from some swamp monster movie.
“Leave me alone – it`s too hot”
A Memory from Mid 1990`s
K. Sterios`s wife had dodgy knees. Whenever I had the pleasure of meeting him through the work we did together, in the cute courtyard with laden grape vines for shade, over the obligatory coffee, a rather impressive collection of x-rays would reverantly be brought to the table, and be handed around for all to peruse the poor condition of his wife s old knees. Not wanting to offend my host, I would inspect the x-rays carefully, nodding and shaking my head accordingly, expressing concern for his lady wife. Hard of hearing, short in stature, this gentleman had a heart of gold.
One day, he had been down into Agios, to attend to some jobs. The once monthly trip usually took the full morning. Departing from Kritsa at sun rise, plodding downhill on his mule would take a couple of hours, whereupon various civil servants would find him waiting on their doorsteps for them to assume their post, so he could tend to his business. The need to pick up bits and pieces he couldn`t find in his village was also seen to on his monthly foray. With goods carefully stashed in his donkey`s saddle and duties fullfilled, the slow uphill journey would begin.
As the aged mule plodded along the tarmac, Sterios`s head would nod gently from side to side in an agreeable doze. The traffic curving gently around him did little to interfere with his early afternoon snooze. Approaching the recently installed traffic lights at the Kritsa/Agios Nikolaos junction*, the mule instinctively knew his way home. Needing no guidance from his owner, whom, anyway, was away with the fairies, it trudged across the somewhat busy crossroads as the traffic lights showed RED. Locals slowed down, passively allowing this familiar twosome to track by, with scarcely a second glance. Tourists, pulled forward on their steering wheels to get a better look at this fragment of old.
* This transpired when the traffic lights at the Kritsa/Agios Nikolaos junction were relatively new, a couple of decades ago.
Today, with the new hazardous priorities junction, I wonder if he`d dare doze whilst crossing !