Tag Archives | history

Quiet Andiparos…

I am visiting Andiparos for part of our fall break from the Aegean Center.  I have been sleeping in and staying up late reading and watching movies.  Today I drove around for a while and photographed some of the stone wall formations that wind their way across the rugged landscape.  I am disheartened by some of the building I see going on–large luxury estates high up on the sides of the mountains, along the steeply sloping terrain, ruining the views of the sea.  Still, with my Mamiya c330 I can extract the beautiful lines of stone from the uglier new constructions, taking them out of context by cropping out the obvious greed and ego of modern man.   Such is my fantasy.

Throughout the day I have had the song “Wichita Lineman”, written by Jimmy Webb and made famous by Glen Campbell, stuck in my head.   I have always loved the melodic loneliness and deep heart of this song.  A friend, mentor and colleague reminded me recently that country music is just as much ‘soul music’ as the famous hits of Aretha Franklin.   This song is a good example for it is in that broad expansive landscape that one hears the lonely soul of America, forever distanced from its European and Asian roots, forever isolated from the rest of the world.  Webb wrote,

I am a lineman for the county

and I drive the main road
Searchin’ in the sun for another overload

I hear you singin’ in the wire,

I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman

is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation

but it don’t look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south

won’t ever stand the strain

And I need you more than want you,

and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

Campbell has many religious and political views that I do not share but one enduring legacy that I admire him for, however, has been his musical work, his labor.  As a member of the “Wrecking Crew” he was one of the most sought out session players from the 50s through the 60s.  He wasn’t a mainstream star until later.  Last year he announced publicly that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  He is currently on tour with his family, a tour which will be his last.  When I read Webb’s lyrics again, hearing Campbell’s voice, I cannot help but cry.

County Line Road, between Washington and Marshall Counties, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of Robert Crowe, photographer, St. Louis, Missouri.

For more of Robert Crowe’s photography and prose, please go here.

JDCM

 

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Seasonal turns in the Cyclades…

In his collection “A Year With Emerson” Richard Grossman envisions the poet and essayist discussing the merits of the simplicity of life with his close friend Henry David Thoreau.  Emerson wrote, “To find the unity in diversity is the role of the seeker of laws.  When we find the unity behind the complex array of nature, we find the inherent simplicity of nature and are at home in it.  We can never be at peace while we exist in a myriad of facts.”

I wrote this entry a few days ago and saved it in ‘drafts’.  I am glad I did.  I had little else to say on that day and surprisingly, not much else to say today.  My energy is stable, not over-the-top.  Tomorrow most of the students are heading out to a week off from the Aegean Center.  Exotic locales, travel plans, etc…Turkey, Copenhagen, islands in Greece, islands of thought and distance.   I think we all need a break.  I am off to the quiet island of Andiparos, adjacent to my current locale and only a 10 minute ferry ride from Paros.  I will have 5 or 6 days there.  I hope to do some reading, take some pictures of stone walls, maybe a little swimming (weather permitting) and generally just hang about.  I’ll be back well before the break ends.

It is very quiet here on Paros.  Tourists are few, visitors to the school are fewer and this weekend we set our clocks back for daylight savings time.  We are a week ahead of America, I think.  Clouds have rolled in and the welcoming rains have been washing the streets clean, rinsing dust from the trees and filling the sky with richly contoured thunderheads.  The rains have been mostly at night, with mixed sunshine during the day. The lightning and thunder has been dramatic, waking me at 3AM,  reminding me to check the open windows in my small flat.  So far no floods.  Tonight I will develop some film and be available for the other students should they need any advice.  It seems a simple, quiet life I have stumbled upon, a veneer for a complex interior.  Too complex to actually comment upon.  I wouldn’t know what to say.  I will take David Byrne’s advice, “When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.”

JDCM

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Some Emerson from an autumnal island…

The weather here on Paros has been a blessing.  It has felt like summer in early October and although the students at the Aegean Center are working hard and discovering the rhythms of the school, they have also enjoyed the sun, swimming and island life.  The heat, however, has forced those of us in the darkroom to take measures for chilling our chemistry.  This is not a problem, but it does require an extra step or two if one wishes to develop film properly.  We will begin printing next week and by that time the ambient temperature should have cooled and our lives will be less complex.  The breeze moving down the streets and alleys this evening is more crisp and there was a heavy dew this morning.  We are supposed to have some rain next week which will slowly turn the amber and silver-grey hills around the bay light green.  I enjoy the change of seasons and this time of year I am reminded that Paros, and all of Greece, has distinct times of year beyond the sun-drenched blue and white stereotype of tourist advertising.

red tomatoes in a blue bowl

I realized the other day that I left my collected Emerson paperback in Italy, perhaps in some hotel.  I imagine it slipped from my backpack and under the bed, forgotten in my eagerness to return to Greece.  I hope it ends up on some shelf to be read by a passing traveler.  I do have my  ‘A Year with Emerson”, which will quote for today, October 10.  He wrote about his ideal scenario regarding readers and how he would like to be perceived: “I would have my book read as I have read my favorite books, not with explosion & amazement, a marvel and a rocket, but a friendly & agreeable influence stealing like the scent of a flower or the sight of a new landscape on a traveler.  I neither wish to be hated & defied by such as I startled, nor to be kissed and hugged by the young whose thoughts I stimulate.”

He also wrote,

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide
upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There
are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are
right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some
of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it
takes brave men and women to win them.”

Both of these concepts–the idea of the more quiet path, modesty being the philosophy and the understanding that one must always be true to oneself and not falter regardless of outside influences–inspire me to be a better person.  The given fact is, of course, that I am human and will sometimes stumble, sometimes reach for glory or even react in a self-deprecating manner.  Imperfection makes the best and most lofty ideals attainable.

(Tomatoes have nothing to do with this post.  I just liked the picture. Think of it as an interlude.  It is also 4 years old and from New York.  Nothing to do with Greece, Emerson or anything at all, really.)

JDCM

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Something caught my eye and holds it still…

Standing outside having coffee on this autumn afternoon I am reminded of the passage of time.  Looking south from here, across the valley of Pistoia and over the hills, I see a landscape that Gentile Da Fabriano could have used for his painting ‘Rest during the flight into Egypt’, the small panel beneath his much more elaborate and ground-breaking altar piece ‘Adoration of the Magi.’  Some art historians consider this small piece, the second of three, to be the first example of a painted landscape.  The rolling hills contain cast shadows, much like those my eyes trace here on the distant foothills of the Apennines.  There are strips of clouds, adding depth to not only Da Fabriano’s pigmented tempera but my own 21st century view.  Far away from Mary and Joseph, a small city sits on a hill, the gravely road winding its way towards their safe haven from Herod’s swords.  I can see a city from where I stand: Pistoia’s duomo and campanile rise up from the more modern town.  Olive groves and fruit trees are illuminated in this clear, crisp sunlight, the wind blowing their leaves, and I imagine the circumstances must have been cold and fraught with peril for the small family, colder still for the elderly Joseph leading them and the small baby held in the arms of a young mother.   The two servants walk behind them, perhaps gathering fruit from the apple trees at the bottom of the hill.  The landscape opens up on each side.  Such perspective and such drama for such a tiny piece of wood and paint.

This piece fills me with such love for humanity.  Every time I see it I am struck by the depth of the color and the size of the panel.  At only 32 x110 cm Da Fabriano has told an entire story.  It portrays such a human condition and the cast of players seem so common: an old man, his young wife, their baby, two assistants and a donkey.  Would we have paid any attention had it not been the Son of God?

JDCM

 

‘Rest during the flight into Egypt’, Gentile Da Fabriano

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Venice, Vivaldi, good food and some of my reality…

I have heard some lovely music in the past two nights, mostly Vivaldi, and all performed by the Interpreti Veneziani, the chamber music organization that performs almost every night here in this ancient and mysterious town.  Last night it was a series of four violin concertos and tonight, his well-known ‘The Four Seasons’.  I was able to attend last night’s performance with a friend who is also an expert on the subject and afterwards we compared notes.  I mentioned that I could hear musical references to Renaissance folk music running through Vivaldi’s Baroque style, like small threads of musical memory, and my friend agreed.  He then reminded me that much of the electricity that emanates from Vivaldi’s music can also be seen as a direct link to the Enlightenment, the era in which Vivaldi lived and composed much of his work.  Previous to Vivaldi’s time, the primary source for inspiration in many of life’s venues had been the church.  With the cultural onslaught of the Enlightenment came ideas such as life, liberty and the innate equality of all.  To think of that and then hear ‘Il Quattore Staggione’ tonight made me quite aware that during the composer’s era this piece must have shocked and amazed his audience, as it still does today.

Venice is lovely and I am lucky to be able to spend some time here although I came down with a brutal head cold that simply wiped me out.  I had to miss a tour of San Marco yesterday in favor of bed, fluids and medication but was able to make it to dinner and then the aforementioned concert.  Last night I ate at the restaurant adjacent to my hotel.  I had baccala with polenta and then pan-seared angler fish in a deconstructed puttanesca sauce.  Really nice.  Then the music.  Tonight it was bresaola salad followed by some branzino at a cafe in Campo di San Stefano.  Then more music.

On a more serious note, I have been aware for some time that many people feel that I take life too seriously, don’t smile enough and seem to not be as joyful as some.  For many years I lived a life…No, that’s not correct…I existed on a plane of desperation and pain driven by ego and hubris.  This trajectory brought me in line with situations and circumstances that can simply be described as ‘dark.’  I have played cards many times with Death and by some miracle have survived each hand.  So if my smile seems a bit strained sometimes it is only because I have tasted  much bile in my time.  My demeanor is that of the lucky few.  Contrary to popular belief, those who have courted death and have lived to tell the tale do not wave our hands about in glee nor do we shout at the top of our lungs our pyhrric victories, aping the latest Youtube sensation.  We sit somewhat stunned, grateful and quiet and remember from whence we came.  Life is serious business and should not be treated as a rehearsal.  You will forgive my not always laughing.

JDCM

angler fish with deconstructed puttanesca sauce

 

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Florence, Pisa and lunch…

The fall session of the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts is going swimmingly.  The students are a lively and engaged group of 26, myself included.  So far we have made a couple of day trips to Florence and our adopted hometown of Pistoia and have just returned from a long day in Pisa.  In the past week have seen some of the most influential art and architecture in the past 2000 years and all of our minds are full of inspired ideas to take back to Paros in a few weeks.  For those of us who have already experienced the work environment of Greece, we are champing at the bit to get to work and let loose some of this pent-up energy.  The downside is that we still have almost three weeks left here in Italy. The upside is, of course, that we still have almost three weeks left here Italy.  In a couple of days we head to Venice for a two-night excursion and then back again.  Following that we still have trips to Siena, Florence and Rome.  Interspersed are days spent at the Villa Rospigliosi in classes (drawing, watercolor painting, vocal training, writing, and photography discussions), one-on-one conversations with mentors and, of course, the deep fellowship that comes with an enriching experience such as this.  What I am saying is that for all that we have seen and experienced, there is still a great deal ahead.

The food here at the Villa is very good, filling and the kind of food that brings us all joy and comfort when our tired bones rest for dinner after trekking about all day long.  It is not haute cuisine but rather the kind of food one’s grandmother (not mine, by the way…she could barely boil water) might prepare.  The other night some students and I were discussing “Italian food” and I noted that here we are in Italy, eating dinner.  Therefore we were having ‘Italian food”.  As someone who has been in the food business in a professional capacity and still retains most of what he learned, I have to admit that even back then, 12 years ago or so, I had become disenchanted by all the ‘specialness’ and ‘preciousness’ of the so-called cuisines that  popped up every time a new celebrity chef graced the television or newspapers.  What I most desired was simple food, food that I have already written about here and food that exists in the sense memories of many people I know.  We remember a warm house on a cold day, the aroma of fresh cookies wafting over us as we shake the snow from our boots; the primal experience of grilling over an open fire as the sun sets on a summer’s day; the joy of family and friends as we all gather for a holiday feast.  Regardless of season, these memories flood my thinking, driving away the cold efficiency of Nouvelle-this or Pan-American-that…Where was I?

Ah, yes…food. Florence, Pisa and lunch.

Yesterday I found a lovely little spot off the tourist track, yet in the middle of Florence.  Tired with the usual panini routine, I emptied my mind and wandered about.  I turned a couple of corners and happened upon ‘Pizzacheria Antonio Porrati’, in the Piazza Pier di Maggiore.  The area was tiny, with three tables inside, a glass case with myriad foods prepared that day, dried pasta on the shelves and a large cabinet of wine. The fellow behind the counter greeted me with a joyful ‘buongiorno!’  Out of the many choices I ordered some roast chicken and  fresh green beans chock full of garlic and olive oil.  Dee-lish!  I ate my lunch, chatted with the owners and then went to join the rest of the school for our tour of the Uffizi Museum.  Once again, home-cooking has struck again, with its simple, nourishing and friendly tastes.  Today was a similar experience.  Pisa began with a tour of the large Pisan Romanesque church, its famously skewed campanile, and the ornate baptistry, followed by a break.  Lunchtime beckoned and once again I wandered back streets, away from the madding crowd.  What initially drew me to ‘Trattoria della Faggiola’ was the sign tacked to the door that read ‘NO PIZZA’.  What a relief!  The menu included carpaccio di salmone so I sat in the nearly empty place and enjoyed a plate of thinly sliced raw salmon on a bed of baby arrugala and a mixed green salad.  The simplest food filled the most demanding hunger.   A few minutes later I was touring the Camposanto, a structure in a state of almost constant restoration since the bombing of Pisa in the 1940s by the Allies.  There has been a great deal of progress on the enormous frescoes even since last year and they look lovely.  Thank you Deane Keller

Today we have classes here at the villa.  Lunch will be salads and leftovers from dinner last night.  Simple, nourishing food for hungry, working students and their teachers.  And tomorrow?  On to Venezia!  Andiamo!

JDCM

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Emerson at the Villa Rospigliosi…

I arrived in Pistoia Friday afternoon after a leisurely train ride through the Apennine Mountains from Faenza.  The day began with pouring rain in Ravenna which slowed and ended as I pulled into the Faenza station.  The remainder of the journey was shot with bright sun arcing through the kind of blue-grey clouds one only sees in high altitude geographies.  As we passed through Ronta, Borgo di San Lorenzo, Vaglia,  La Luna and other small towns I was struck how these mountain communities all have something in common.  Even Leadville, Colorado has a similar feel.  I hypothesize that it is the separateness of these communities from the larger populations.  Like islands, they exist on the trade routes of other city’s fortunes, whistle-stops along the way from one place to another.

As the iron rails wound downhill the landscape smoothed from sharp, stony teeth and spiked conifers to a rolling ruggedness covered with magnolias, plane trees and umbrella pines.  As I arrived in Firenze Santa Maria di Novella Stazione, I was struck by a memory from the early 1990s, the first time I pulled into this place, after an overnight ride from Luxembourg City.  The station hasn’t changed all that much and still ranks as one of my favorite train hubs. I can go anywhere from Florence, anywhere the compass points.

In his essay ‘Fate’, Emerson discusses education, the ability to teach and how at times we seem to be bound in a cycle of superstition.  He affirms his cynicism, with which I identify.  He writes,

“We are incompetent to solve the times.  Our geometry cannot span the huge orbits of the prevailing ideas, behold their return, and    reconcile their opposition.  We can only obey our own polarity. ‘Tis fine for us to speculate and elect our course, if we must accept an irresistible dictation.”

If Emerson sounds cynical, then perhaps he is.  Despite the open-minded nature and the spiritual axioms of the transcendentalists, I have found through my readings that Emerson was a realist and when, let us say, confronted by an unmovable obstacle, he would accept this as fact and walk away.  He talks of this reality in the above-quoted text.  People can learn only when they are willing to learn and only what they want.  If I remain open to all of the sights and sounds around me then I can learn more from the whole of the map than I would if I were to concentrate on one small area.  If, for example, I had disembarked at Borgo di San Lorenzo last Friday instead of taking the whole journey to Firenze, then my Weltanschauung would have consisted of less than what I am currently willing to entertain. As beautiful as the scenery is in that small town, it is not the entire world, nor my entire experience.  I have to be willing to be taught, to stay on the train if need be.  That is not to say that cannot jump off and get on as my heart demands.  I just have to remind myself that there is more to see down the line.

And so Emerson arrives at the Villa Rospigliosi, hands behind his back, ruminating in his clear New England voice.  I imagine he would have liked this place, with its running fountain, olive groves, and roses.  He would have enjoyed meeting the students and faculty of the Aegean Center.  Like him we are here on a small island of thought, day-tripping to other stops along the line.  I must not forget the larger map, the grander cartography, for even if I cannot see it at times it is there, as big as life.

JDCM

The Villa Rospigliosi

The Villa Rospigliosi, September home of the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts

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If it’s Monday, this must be Ravenna…

If this is Monday, then I must be in Ravenna

I have been in three countries since Friday.  I left Athens Friday afternoon and it was 40*C.  I landed at London Heathrow a couple of hours later and it was 18*C.  Last night I flew from London to Bologna and it was still 28*C at 11PM when I arrived at Marconi Airport.  This morning I took the train to Ravenna and it is currently a balmy 30*C here on the Adriatic coast of Italy at 9PM. As much as I loved seeing friends in London over the weekend it feels good to be back in the southern half of the continent.  Please forgive my jet-setting.  It is only my itinerary.  I am here for three days and then I take the train to Pistoia, in Tuscany, where I meet up with my fellow artists of the Aegean Center.

Ravenna is a lovely little town and as I sit in a cafe on the street, James Brown and his band emanate from the speakers, enhancing the long, short bricks that are the common foundation.  At the risk of sounding pedestrian, the bricks are important.  This style of brick-making has been utilized throughout this part of Italy for thousands of years and many of the Byzantine-era basilica are constructed with this material.  Ravenna is the home to some of the most lovely Byzantine mosaics dating from the late 2nd century ACE until the end of the 5th century and was the capital of the Byzantine West even after the Council of Nicea had made such thinking heretical in 325.  The history of the city pre-dates this time by a couple of millennia and there are reports from the Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus claiming that the city was founded several generations before the Trojan War.  This cannot be confirmed but the geographer Strabo professes that the city was founded by Greeks from Thessaly.  It makes sense to me.  I’ll let everyone discover the rich and varied history for themselves but do not be surprised when you look at the Basilica of San Vitale and notice that it bears a striking resemblance to both the Agia Sofia in Istanbul and the Ekatontapiliani on the Greek island of Paros.  The large, broad dome, connected apses, the hexagonal structure and the vibrant interior urge the visitor to consider his or her spiritual position here on Earth rather than a pending afterlife common in the heaven-grasping spires of later, post-Byzantine designs.  And did I mention the mosaics?  Boffo…good ones.  “Colorful” is not the word to describe them.  I visited some today and have only two or three to cross off my list.  This means I will have time this week to re-visit them all and get some pictures.

My hotel is very nice–clean, convenient and not too expensive.  I am staying at the Hotel Centrale Byron just inside the pedestrian/bicycle zone in the old city.  I have to investigate Lord Byron’s influence in Ravenna.  He lived in Pisa and Genoa before he joined the fight for Greek independence in the 1820s.  I am suddenly thinking of Byron’s statue in the city park of Athens…many strong threads for me to hold on to here.

Dinner tonight was at a family-run restaurant off the tourist trail.  ‘Vecchia Ravenna da Mario’  was recommended by the hotelier and it did not disappoint.  The only unfortunate aspect (minor at best) is that there is some street paving being done by the city on Via Giuseppe Pasolini where the restaurant is located.  This did not affect my meal, however, as the workers had quit for the day hours before.  As I ate my ‘gnocchi ai quattro formaggio’ and ‘arrosto misto’  the place began to fill up with Italian families. It was a good sign and I was pleased with the meal.  Italian home-cooking to be sure-nothing fancy, just home-cookin’–my kind of grub.  Regarding food, the hotelier mentioned that one of the local specialties is a plate of fried, whole sardines, i.e. ‘sarde fritte‘. Hmm…it sounds a bit like gavros.  Where the heck am I?  I swear the signpost said ‘Italia’ when I ambled into town…

JDCM

 

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Emerson on the beach…

I sat on the beach the other day and listened to the waves lapping against the sloping sand.  While the currents slowly rolled the soft-colored stones rounder, my mind drifted from the page I was reading to the motorboat out in the bay and then back to the page only to be distracted again by the clarity of the sky and shadowy islands lying not-so-distant from my colorful towel.  I wonder if Emerson ever thought that one of his essays would become the subject of this writer’s musing or his book find its way to this sandy place?   Probably.  I am sure that his young admirer Walt Whitman would have felt at home here too.  He’ll be next.  “Leaves of Grass” during a wet Aegean February might be a good read for me.  In any case, in his essay ‘Circles’ published in 1841, Ralph demonstrates prescience.  In the modern world the concept of circles and cycles is common.  Society knows the words ‘reincarnation’ and ‘oneness’ as well as other ’round’ concepts.  Buddhism is not the mysterious idea it was so many decades ago and the phrase “what comes around, goes around” has been in the modern lexicon since, I suppose, the early 1960s.  “Ye reap what ye sow” has been around longer and means much the same thing.  What Emerson speaks of, I feel, is something larger than that.  Ideas come and go and  those who live in the past naturally point in fear and condemnation towards any revolution of thought or action that may threaten their temporary power.  That’s a good word too—revolution.  It implies a turning.  Seasons turn, wheels turn and the wheel inside the wheel turns as an analogy of an invisible world we may only glimpse in dreams or moments of sublime inspiration, connections with something larger outside ourselves.   Then again, there I was sitting on a beach in an archipelago called the Cyclades, or “The Circle”.  Hmm…Here is an excerpt from Emerson’s essay titled “Circles”, published in 1841:

“There are no fixtures in nature. The universe is fluid and volatile. Permanence is but a word of degrees. Our globe seen by God is a transparent law, not a mass of facts. The law dissolves the fact and holds it fluid. Our culture is the predominance of an idea which draws after it all this train of cities and institutions. Let us rise into another idea; they will disappear. The Greek sculpture is all melted away, as if it had been statues of ice: here and there a solitary figure or fragment remaining, as we see flecks and scraps of snow left in cold dells and mountain clefts in June and July. For the genius that created it creates now somewhat else. The Greek letters last a little longer, but are already passing under the same sentence and tumbling into the inevitable pit which the creation of new thought opens for all that is old. The new continents are built out of the ruins of an old planet; the new races fed out of the decomposition of the foregoing. New arts destroy the old. See the investment of capital in aqueducts, made useless by hydraulics; fortifications, by gunpowder; roads and canals, by railways; sails, by steam; steam, by electricity.”

“There are no fixtures in nature…”  Indeed.  The waves roll and dissolve stones to sand, the wind shifts and islands disappear.  My eye wanders from the page to the sky and back again.  I blame the Meltemi for these ramblings.  The wind rushes, sometimes feeling as if it is blowing through my head.  In one ear and out the other.

JDCM

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Walking across Paros and flying through space…

Since I have returned to Paros I have taken two excellent, long and hot walks.  On Saturday I walked from my apartment in Paroikia along the back roads to the northern tip of the island.  This area is called Kolimbithres and is host to three lovely beaches, an Eco-Park, a famous monastery and a fascinating boatyard, if that is your sort of thing.  The whole walk was about 12 km ( about 7.5 miles) and I covered the stretch in about 2 hours.  I had a quick swim and began hoofing it back to the bus stop.  It really has been very hot here and even though I stayed well hydrated I felt it was alright to take the bus back to town.  I tried some hitchhiking but there was no luck until a nice English couple pulled over and gave me a lift in their converted postal van.  An excellent day of excersise.   It was wonderful to experience the aroma of all the cedars and pines baking in the blazing Greek sun-a combination of resin and marble dust.  Lovely.

Today I went for another long walk, this time from the small hill town of Lefkes, over the hills and down to the beaches on the eastern side of the island, namely Kalogheros, or as many folks call it, the Clay Beach.  This is due to the massive clay deposits that make up the walls facing the sea and the nearby island of Naxos.  You can smash small bits and mix it with seawater to form a paste and then spread it over any exposed skin.  After letting it dry you dive into the water and wash it off.  Your skin feels silky and smooth after having this spa treatment.  To think that some people spend thousand for this elsewhere!  It was wander through the parched, golden hills, dotted with old windmills, tiny churches, monasteries and miles of ancient olive groves.  It is fascinating to think that these groves have withstood hundreds of years of raging wind, rain, snow and heat and are just now coming into their prime as fruit-bearing trees.  I stopped by a small mountain spring I know of off the track and behind an old church and found the cold water flowing from the spigot at a healthy trickle in this hot, dry August.  It was lovely to see the stone walls running through the vista.  Some of them are also centuries old but are identical in many ways to those constructed more recently.  I took some pictures and, once again, stayed hydrated. Once I made it to the beach I jumped in the water and swam about a bit then headed back to the bus stop in Prodromos for a leisurely ride back to Paroikia.

All of today’s journey began this morning in the upstairs ‘Big Room’ at the school.  John Pack (and Gabriel Pack), our director (and son), had set up the projector so we could observe the landing of the most recent Mars rover ‘Curiosity’.  There was coffee, homemade doughnuts and palpable excitement.  It was a tense thirty-five minutes and, for me here on Earth, a reminder of how important these excursions can be, if not for humanity then at least for the idea that there is something out there that can still hold our human fascination.  After that I began my own small journey, from one place to the other.  Maybe not as pioneering a trip to Mars, but essential in re-establishing my own sense of place on a swiftly turning planet.

JDCM

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