Eleni in Ikaria, February 02, 2006


Ikarian sea lilies

Ο Θαλασσόκρινος

‘Στη στεριά δεν ζει το ψάρι
ούτε ο ανθός στην αμμουδιά,
κι οι Σουλιώτισσες δεν ζούνε
δίχως την ελευθεριά.’

This is from ‘The Dance of Zalogo’, one of my best favourites in Greek folk verse and music.The words say : «a fish can’t live on the land, neither can a flower live on sand, neither can the women of Souli live without freedom.»
(After a battle was lost, the women of Souli ran to the brow of a cliff where they sang and danced this merry-go-round ‘syrtos’ . As they danced, one after the other jumped over the cliff and got killed . The women of Souli were something else -believe me.)


I started like this because I wanted to connect this entry with ‘contradictions’, remember? Because in Greece there is a flower (ανθός =a real flower with a nice smell and pretty looks) which lives on sand. It’s name is Thalassokrinos (=the lilly of the sea, θάλασσα). I first saw it on Livadi beach, near Armenistis about 12 years ago. There are some dwarf cedar trees there (juniperus?) and people often camp under them in the summer. Then they go away and they leave many ordinary or extraordinary items half-buried in the sand. So when that smell struck my nose I thought it was from a bottle of sun-cream and my first thought was to find the make because I had never smelled anything like it before and I liked it very much. I expected to find some exotic (e.g. American, Australian) brand. But there was nothing like it in the deserted camping site under the cedar tree -only sand and several cigarette butts. The smell was stronger then so I squated and searched with my hands in the sand. Among cigarette butts and odd debris I touched several hard protrusions. They were whitish beige -about the same colour as the sand, and at first I thought they were small peebles or seashells. But they were soft under my touch and of course they smelt divine! I was wirling round the tree like a mad dog then and I went to the other side of it which campers do not use because there are many spurges there. Among them I saw my first fully grown Sea Lilly, a flower I believed it was mythical. Much humbler and modest than the ones depicted in the Minoan frescoes (one called, if I’m not mistaken, Η Κυρία με τα Κρίνα, The Lady with the Lillies) but as proud and princely in odor.
I had discovered a ‘habitat‘.
I came back after a few days and had the luck to see the whole colony in bloom. It was a very windy day though so there was no smell. I didn’t squat nor did I came back on another day, because I didn’t want to attract public attention. I only spoke about my discovery to the woman who owns ‘Atsahas’ taverna (that’s on the side of the hill on the eastern side of the beach). She is an amateur in plants and she knows Livadi beach like the palm of her hand, but she had never heard or seen the sea lillies. Perhaps this is because they come out of bulbs and they bloom for too short. Then, if you don’t know about them, you wouldn’t look under a tree in the sand (washed by the surf in winter too) to find such a flower, when there so many places to look for interesting plants on the dry land.

Soso's Lilies Soso's lilies Soso's lilies Aegean Sea lily

Why don’t those flowers behave right? Well, I think that if they did they wouldn’t smell so divine.
They are the Alkyon sea bird. Why doesn’t it nest on safer ground than those rocks right over the killer surf of the sea in winter? If they did, they would be plain birds (white, brown or black) and they wouldn’t have that shiny electric blue-green-yellow colour. They wouldn’t set an example, there would be no myth connected to them and we wouldn’t be so happy to see them -we, lonely swimmers of lonely rocky coves.

Have I filled a computer screen? I think I have. So I’ll write no more in my blog tonight. There will be another full computer screen tomorrow.

καληνύχτα σας
εδώ ψιχαλίζει απόψε
και είναι πολύ ωραία.
Εύχομαι και σε σας να είναι
το ίδιο καλά και καλύτερα.




(4 total)

Yes, sometimes beauty emerges only through hardship and grief; sometimes through tears comes a clarity of vision. What does not kill me makes me stronger, so they say Eleni.

Wednesday February 1, 2006 – 02:45pm (PST)

I know the spot. What do I win if I find the bulbs and send you a photo?

Thursday February 2, 2006 – 12:51pm (EET)

Do I have to tell you? I thought you were cleverer.
To find the bulbs is the prize, of course, what else?

Thursday February 2, 2006 – 12:41pm (PST)

You have the North of England branch of Hiking Ikaria utterly intrigued by these sea-lilies….And how often have I been bowled over by extraordinary scents on Ikaria and not traced the source..

Thursday February 2, 2006 – 08:42pm (GMT)



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