After a few weeks of unseasonably warm and dry days, the weather has turned back to winter here on Paros. The rains have started, the clouds have rolled in…the wind has shifted from the north. We need the water badly. I am sitting at Port Kafe, waiting for the boat to come and take me to Athens for a couple of days. The schedules have changed for today so I have a few hours to wait. Still, I would rather wait here than in my flat. Pericles makes an exceptional Greek coffee and he knows me well.
Today is the first day of Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church. For the next 40 days there should be seriousness, sadness, contemplation. Also no oil, no animal products, no leavened bread,no meat with a backbone. No weddings, no christenings, no birthdays, no name-days…Thank the gods for octopus and chorta, fresh clams and beans with lemon juice! Like most traditions co-opted by the Church, the idea began long before Christianity. It falls around the same time of the year when the stores of food would begin to run low. The fall and summer harvest’s bounty is beginning to be used up and it is too early for the new lambs…the seas perhaps too rough to fish. So for the next 40 days we scrimp and don’t eat so much. Or so we should. I think, maybe, considering everything that is happening in the world, we should do it just to experience a little starvation. Many people don’t have this luxury.
Today is also my mother’s birthday. She would have been 92 today and we would have gathered and helped her to celebrate with flowers and cards. I can still celebrate the day. She was very proud of me and my sisters, loved us dearly and without conditions, without judgment. She worried, like all good mothers can and do. She rushed to our aid when she could. She let us go as we needed. She gathered us in her arms when we returned home for a holiday, a weekend or a much needed break from all the difficulties that taxed her children’s existence. For me, she was the parent I turned to for help. In times of trouble she would look me in the eye and say, “Listen, this is all going to be over soon…” or “You have always been able to just do it, just go out there and make your own way…!” and eventually “The last thing I want you to do is waste your life taking care of me…I’m alright. You get on with it.” She was quite the woman. Quite the mother. My mama. Our mama! I miss her every Goddamn day…that would have been something she would have said too. She was brilliant, caring, gentle and could curse like a longshoreman. Happy Birthday mama. Many kisses.
Below are some images from the past few weeks–pictures drawn by the children of some friends for my birthday, a photo of me at the bike race receiving the 3rd Place Bronze…Mom would have been tickled pink to see these things and to be at the party. I would like to think she was.