Gillian Bouras
An Australian
Writer
Living in Greece

It's Still Greek to Me!

 

February 2016

Well, January went quickly, mainly because of generally mild winter weather. We may not be so lucky this month: the first visit my parents paid to the village house took place in February. A memorable time, and now so long ago. My youngest son, Alexander, was a baby, we had to cope with the usual quota of cloth nappies that were generally to be found airing near the wood stove, and it rained solidly for four weeks. And with none of your Melbourne/London drizzle. (My father moaned monotonously about the loss of sunny Greece.) Need I say more? Except that this rain is often the February pattern: so good for the olive trees, say the farmers.

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January 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR! But of course. And have the Greek wish Chronia Polla as well: literally Many Years, but more logically Many Happy Returns of the Day.

In the benighted bad old days, children used to be asked to write a composition on the subject of What I Did in the Holidays. And indeed the gifted English writer and playwright Alan Bennett still keeps a diary along the same lines: the London Review of Books has just published excerpts from his work What I Did in 2015.

What I Myself Did in These Recent Holidays consisted of a thousand kilometre road trip. My middle son has just acquired a new car after driving his old and trusty vehicle for 15 years, and so was anxious to take it, as he said, ‘for a spin.’ Some spin. Off we set, two days before Christmas, on our journey into what I always think of as ‘the other Greece.’ My life here has been led in the Peloponnese, which began its ultimately successful struggle against the Turks in 1821.In contrast, Thessaly was not liberated until 1881, and Epirus could not be considered free until 1913. Mosques still dot the landscape in these areas.

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December 2015

Look at this! I’m so organised as to be early! Well, I’m writing early, so it is to be hoped that I can at least be on time with the posting. The reason for this surge of energy is that I am going to Athens again tomorrow (this junketing about has got to stop, but not yet) in order to see the grandchildren (again) and to do a few things of a cultural nature as well. Youngest grandchild Orestes, otherwise known as O, is battling bronchi this and bronchi that, as he does at various intervals. My grannies would have called him a chesty child. Whatever: it doesn’t bode well for the Greek winter, which is fairly short but often tryingly harsh. Of course there’s a conspiracy of silence about this, as tourism depends so much on sea and sun.

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November 2015

Here it is November already, a most beautiful autumn has ended, and I’m still picking up threads left dangling when I went to Melbournein July. The price one pays for the divided life. Of course such a life has many benefits and blessings, it must be said: variety is one. But at present I’m trying to catch up with mundane tasks: my snail mail correspondence, the cleaning of cupboards (UGH), and the general readying of self and establishment for the onset of winter. The rest of this small world is doing the same: the hills are alive with the sound of chainsaws, and neatly stacked wood heaps are growing in size. Much airing of winter-weight clothing is going on, as well as much hoeing and tending of gardens.

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October 2015

Here we are at the start of another month, and here I am back in Greece again. I’ve often thought that while I am not a bag lady, I am a suitcase lady, and it is a fact that I have spent a great deal of my life saying either hullo or goodbye,  and of course I know which word and ritual I prefer. It is often difficult to think of more arrivals when one is departing, and the difficulty is compounded by the fact of a divided life. I said goodbye to one son in Melbourne, and have now greeted two others (and three grandsons) in Greece.

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September 2015

The month has passed very rapidly. The next three weeks will do the same, and then I will be back at the airport, and headed for Greece. Again. Before I left in July the confused, confusing, and ill-fated referendum had taken place, and on my return the result of yet another election will be known. What it all means, greater minds than mine have been puzzling over for quite some time. And who really knows what will happen? All I know is that I fear for my grandchildren.

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August 2015

Here I am back in Marvellous Melbourne, and feeling the cold, I must admit. It was 36 degrees the day I left Greece. But never mind: the temperature has crept up from the 7 my brother reported all too recently to a bearable 14. And some of my foreign friends in Greece rather envy me the cold. I would rather swelter than shiver, but not everybody shares my tastes.

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July 2015

Summer is usually holiday time, fun time, in Greece. This month and next month are regular break periods and school holidays, when families take trips, and when retirees and the young spend hours on the beach. Tourists arrive in droves, and most often go island-hopping, and in so doing help to keep the country going. There is a lightness of mood and quite a deal of frivolity. Usually.

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June 2015

The White Rabbit syndrome is upon me again. The main reason for tardiness this month is the removal of a cataract. My Kalamata ophthalmologist had been nagging me for at least two years about the state of my right eye, but when it came to the crunch she recommended that I have the procedure done in Athens. So of course I complied, and went to a branch of the Athens Eye Hospital, where everything is so hi-tech and new that patients are in a fair way to be dazzled post operation.

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May 2015

After an exceptionally long, hard winter, Spring has arrived at last, and Greeks are looking forward to a long weekend, for May Day is a public holiday. But there is not a great deal to look forward to in Greece at present, as the country is still trembling on the brink of economic collapse, and may well run out of cash in the next few days. My youngest son and I have more or less stopped taking an interest in the ongoing krisi, as we agree that we have been reading and listening to the same old thing for far too long. Call us ostriches if you like. But keeping up-to-date, we have decided, is exceedingly stressful. So we are trying to concentrate on more positive matters, being powerless, in any case, to influence the path of this much-beset country.

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April 2015

It’s been a long, hard winter, and everybody is moaning about it. March has resembled February in the amount of rain that has fallen, and cold winds are still blowing. Heavily symbolic they are, doubtless, of the current state of European-Greek relations. My friends and I are tending to draw a heavy veil over this matter, and over many others: the world is in a terrible mess, but we must strive for optimism, even if such striving becomes an exhausting struggle at times. Brave nature leads the way: the scarlet anemones have continued to flower through downpours, and have been joined now by bottle brushes and judas trees, while the little avenue of wattles along the beach road does this ageing expat’s heart good. Golden wattles, no less, and they are quite simply blooming in mad profusion: every tree is covered in the little yellow spheres.

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March 2015

My least favourite month of the year is over, for which much thanks. Although it is the shortest month, here in the Peloponnese it always seems the longest. There have been some sunny days, but these have most often been accompanied by winds that seem to come directly from Siberia, and nights have been simply freezing. My hot-water bottle is very high on the list of My Favourite Things at present.

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Gillian Bouras

 

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