Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Writer
Living in Greece

It's Still Greek to Me!

 

May 2018

Spring has finally arrived, thank goodness, and now it seems to be roses, roses all the way. The gardens seem more beautiful and colourful than ever this year. The bottle brushes, which were unknown in Greece when I was first here, are blooming in mad profusion, and wisteria is draping itself over many a wall and pergola. The aforementioned roses are mainly of the old-fashioned variety: you don’t see too many of the scentless purple ones around. I can never decide whether I like purple roses or not, but I do like the ones of various colours that remind me of the gardens of my past. Granny, my paternal grandmother, for example, was very fond of a rose called Masquerade, which consists of yellow, pink, and red flowers. And there is a flourishing bush of Masquerade just along the road.

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April 2018

Easter seems to have come very quickly this year, with Orthodox Easter scheduled for a mere week after Catholic Easter, which is what the Greeks always call Western Easter. Amid all the usual preparations, people are fervently hoping that the weather improves. I’m always going on about the weather, and have concluded that I suffer from a mild form of SAD: Seasonally Affected Depression. I never take to my bed, as I’m so afraid I might miss something, but I certainly want to quite often: like my mother, I think I was a bear in a previous life, and have a strong desire to  hibernate.

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March 2018

Tomorrow is the first day of spring, and I’m pleased to report that trees are blossoming everywhere, and that the wild flowers are doing all the right things and precisely on time. I returned from a brief stay in Athens today, and the Peloponnese is the usual spring time picture of pinks and greens. And soon the deep mauve of the Judas trees will be added to the landscape. There has been a great deal of rain lately, but today the sun was out, really out.

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February 2018

The inexorable march involving that dimension. On the one hand time seems to drag, while on the other it gallops away into some sort of distance at a truly frightening rate. Gloomy February is very quickly almost upon us, but as I write the sun is shining brightly, and making all the difference to jaded spirits. And there was a distinctly orange moon in the process of sinking behind the mountains first thing this morning: astronomers all over the world must be ecstatic at this triple moon phenomenon, which occurs, I am informed, only once in 150 years.

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January 2018

It feels strange to be writing the above words when there are still a few days to go before the New Year is upon us. And it’s a strange business, anyway, the whole business of thinking about the future. I don’t think it’s a good idea in general, although some plans are necessary, I suppose, as a sort of guideline to life. But you can bet your boots that those plans will often be upset. Life can change, for better or for far worse, in a fraction of a second. Still, it behoves us to be optimistic, as far as we are able.

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December 2017

It’s that time again, and the old Puritanical soul is in overdrive on observing that Christmas, yet again, has been hijacked by the general forces of capitalism and the specific forces of appetite and greed. I am still reeling from the shock of discovering that in Britain it is possible to buy, of course at great expense, an erotic Advent calendar: I ask you. My grannies are doing cartwheels in their graves. My grandchildren will be getting very modest offerings, if any, to mark the Festive Season. I’ve already made a present of a few Australian dollars to my Big Boys, now 11 and 9. With their parents, they will be in Melbourne for three weeks over the Christmas-New Year period: excitement is running high.

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November 2017

And still the autumn shines on. We have had some rain, but of course the farmers say it is not enough. In the meantime the clocks have gone back, and mornings and evenings are distinctly nippy. But some people continue to swim: there’s a hardcore group that swims every day of the year, but I have no wish to join this particular club.

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October 2017

The beautiful autumn is continuing: morning glories blooming in mad profusion, trees bending under their loads of ripening pomegranates, all that. But the farmers have been complaining, as farmers everywhere have a habit of doing. (Who’d be a primary producer, after all?) They’ve been moaning about drought, as well they might, because rain is essential for the ripening and plumping of the olives, this area’s most important crop. But as is usual here, the weather has changed right on schedule, and we have now had good rains. So presumably the farmers are happy, at least for the time being. Expats are somewhat disappointed by the downturn in the weather, although some hardy souls among them keep on swimming regardless. Many know that there is still the Little Summer of Saint Dimitrios to look forward to. The saint’s feast day is on October the 26th, and it is at about that time that a run of softly sunny days favours us. And the chrysanthemums are a picture, all tawny russet and bright yellow.

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September 2017

The Greek summer seems to go by very rapidly, and the beginning of September means, at least for most people, a picking up of the threads of reality. There is a general return to places of work after a month of being away at the beach, and children go back to school. The latter can hardly complain, as Greek schools have the longest summer holidays in Europe. In any case, autumn is a beautiful season, but all too short. Change is in the air even as I write, as it has been a grey day, and we have actually had good falls of rain. So I presume the farmers will be happy.

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August 2017

The summer seems to be speeding by, as summers anywhere mainly do. My four grandchildren are all at the beach: the big boys are visiting the island of Spetses, where I have never been, and the littlies are on Crete, visiting their other grandparents. I have been to Crete many times, but I was sorry not to be there yesterday, as it was granddaughter Natalia’s first birthday: I’m sorry I missed seeing her enjoy her birthday cake, which was an ice cream one, I’m told. And she drank from a straw for the first time. Babyhood is disappearing fast, as she is now walking, although she likes to hang on to things while doing so. I can see the attraction of that practice at the other end of life, too! She is to be christened at the end of this month. I confess I do not look forward to the occasion at all, for Orthodox christenings, involving the ritual triple immersion, are an ordeal rather than anything else.

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July 2017

A mixed month, the one just past, to say the least. Which is one reason this month’s entry may well be posted late. Other reasons include those of natural sloth and unnatural heat: 45 is supposed to be today’s maximum temperature, and I’m not really interested enough to check. My rare excursions outside tell me it is HOT, and that’s all I need to know.

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June 2017

Kalo meena, as the Greeks say: have a good month. Summer is supposed to be here, but we have had most odd weather over the last week: dramatic thunderstorms and torrential rain. This pattern did not do a lot for ageing adult enjoyment of a school excursion. I had arranged to meet Nikitas and Maximus, my elder grandsons, now aged 11 and 9, and their mother, in Kalamata. Last Sunday they travelled from Megara, the town between Corinth and Athens where they live, for the day, and were a small part of three busloads of primary school children: I felt weak at the sight, and weaker still at the sound of at least a hundred Greek children at leisure.

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Gillian Bouras

 

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