A Love Story
An Adventure Film
An Initiative of Volunteers
«…and the river -come on, red-haired wife of the priest-
and the river was muddy and the river was muddy,
muddy and turbid, dragging boulders –come on, red-haired wife of the priest-,
dragging boulders off their roots, dragging boulders off their roots,
trees that have been uprooted, dragging a -come on, red-haired wife of the priest-,
dragging a sweet apple tree, dragging a sweet apple tree,
loaded with black plastic pipes!»
(old Greek folk song)
[On October 18, 2010 torrential rainfalls hit the western side of Ikaria island causing an unprecedented flushflood which destroyed the vegetation and leveled the rivedbed of the most beautiful mountain ravine of the river Chalares, commonly known as «the river of Nas». Besides that, if not the worst, at least the ugliest result of the flood was the hundreds of pieces of broken plastic pipes used for irrigation purposes, piled up and tangled in every part of the ravine. So, the following spring a team of volunteers responded to the call of the local Mountain Climbing and Hiking Club (OPS Ikarias) to remove all that trash from the river and let nature heal its wounds as nature knows best. The text below is the chronicle of that huge volunteer project. It was written day after day with a lot of emotion so it’s sometimes difficult to understand. But I hope the photos will help.]
Day 1: Beginning of December, three from the board of the Mountain Club of Ikaria and other two friends we go to Chalares to see the devastation after the terrible flash flood of October. Shock. A new unknown landscape. Without plane trees, caves, waterfalls, pools. Barren, even river, broad, with a lot of water. And with a lot of light. Merciless, ample sunlight, without shade anywhere. In this light pieces of plastic pipes are seen everywhere –thousands of meters of black pipes of water intake that the river carried and broke. Pipes that shouldn’t be there in the first place, and yet they were; cut in pieces, fortunes wasted, reduced to trash. Nobody was aware that they were so many. We are thinking: we can’t remake the old river, we can’t eliminate the reasons that led to the doom. But we can remove the trash pipes. “But it’s not our business”, “But it will be hard”, “What are we going to do with them?”, “They ‘ll say they needed them. We will get in trouble”. But something like a tantrum has taken over us. We must do something. Let’s do this. Let it be like a gesture. Pick up the trash. For reasons of honor.
on facebook 😉
From that moment on we call ourselves “Initiative of Volunteers”. Write a petition, collect signatures, apply to the Municipality of Ikaria, step somewhat absurd (“please, let us pick up the trash”). Yet necessary. Responsibility, awareness, reliability, honor. Permission from the Council is granted, a “committee of inhabitants of Nas” supports us, we go for dates and finally the… ANNOUNCEMENT!
on facebook 😉
Good Thursday. K. is expecting a lot of volunteers. He has taken the hubbub on the internet for cash. A. is worried about the weather, the swollen waters, the bad shape of the trail into the gorge. G. is off to Athens. L. shows up smiling with his dog K. -mascot of every dangerous mission- who ‘s smiling too. Early at the rendezvous on the bridge there is a car, we think they are volunteers; no, they were night owls, stopped for some sleep. We meet D. who we until then knew only on the net. Orange overalls “Greek Speleological Society”. We meet K. who we knew not, yet we knew her dog V.! K. is wearing a long raincoat, hood and rubber boots to the knee. Weather rainy, north wind, the river in hissing. G. is in K.’s restaurant in Nas, making sandwiches. E. has sent 150 € for provisions, she hasn’t come herself though. There are not enough hands. We are desperately few. Embarrasment. A., K., L. and D. start picking and bundling pieces of pipes. Suddenly, bam!, the “foreign factor” turns up (“Kalimera!”) -S., J. and little R. from England. Raincoats, leather boots, woolen caps.
But we still are too few. A. exhausted (“What are we doing here?”). Little R. asks her mother who is struggling with the pipes, “Mummy, what do normal people do in their holidays?” We laugh. Young D. rides by. She’s studying for exams and she’s taken a break. “Grab a saw, go in” We take a good look at the river, the part that we have cleaned. It’s a river without trash pipes. A river that we had never seen so clean before -even in its best. OK then. We are doing a good job.
Hours later at lunch at K.’s there’s lot of good talking. End of Day 2.
on facebook 😉
Day 3: Good Friday. The Longest Day of the War. Super-Production. Highlights : ◙ Two volunteers from Athens! ◙ We lost the cook! ◙ A young Greek American with family origins from Ikaria joined us. He was in the Navy Seals. He and his girlfriend ripped to work! ◙ V. showed up late, already noon, yet she brought with her a platoon of 3 men; they all fought very bravely. ◙ Even later came E. (sent by M.) who, however, helped incredibly a lot (honoring the arms of Messaria) with the pipes in the hardest part of the river at the hardest hour of the day. ◙ Volunteer G. (honoring the arms of Rahes) was carrying heavy bundles of pipes two by two. ◙ A., D. and K. who tied the bundles with wire, grew calluses in their hands. ◙ At a certain moment old man V. from Kato Raches who was also picking up pipes and repairing his own, shouted to the team. Though he was only asking to save for him a piece that he needed, his yells alarmed the English. “I think we have a political issue in there…”, they said as they were leaving. ◙ On their way back to Nas they run across a rare toad and take a photo! ◙ Except broken pipes, the only pieces of trash that we found in the canyon were a car tire, a tent pole and… a bra!
Hours later at lunch at K.’s there’s lot of good talking. End of Day 3.
on facebook 😉
Day 4: Wednesday after Easter. Ungrateful, heavy carrying. Dirty weather. We are very few. K. is already working in the field, unruffled in the rain, she is carrying up bundles from the large Angels’ pool. She loves that place. She wants it to be clean. We are impelled and we get busy. K. is throwing bundles to young K. from one side of the turbulent river to the other. Young K. has freaked out yet manages to grab and carry the bundles. But Ch., a newcomer, ran away as soon as he saw what we were doing. We didn’t see him again. A.’s camera freaks out too, and it jams.
Hours later over coffee at K.’s there’s lot of good talking. End of Day 4.
on facebook 😉
Day 5: Sunday. We are nobody! G. comes by K.’s place, he finds A., then the other G. comes by, they have coffee, they recruit two tourists and later they find another two, they all go to work, and… miracle of miracles, magic power of casualness…
the job is done!!! 🙂
Request: Just now the river is (almost) clean of trash to the beach of Nas. No other pipes must be cut and removed by anybody under pretext that “they are trash” or that “they are illegal”. The pipes that remain in the river are functional. They carry water to the farms and the village of Nas, therefore, until the area is properly connected to the public network, they must be respected. Any damage to them, will cause trouble. To anybody who would like to help the nature of the river to reborn faster, we suggest planting olianders, local river plants that are found everywhere and can be planted easily any time of they year. Also, the goats don’t like them and they don’t eat them. Thank you very much.
For the volunteers
«no» votes: 1
«don’know»: votes: 6
«a fool is a fool»: votes: 2
Great entry, stupid poll. But then again who knows? Maybe the answer is not so obvious for everybody. If you had put up an entry and a poll as commonplace as «In ecotourism lies the income», you would have many comments and votes.
But people who are on the net know very little about olive trees, the rain and fools!
Sunday September 28, 2008 – 04:03pm (EEST)
I like to collect olives. My boyfriend and I collected a lot in Ikaria last December. Great days and great nights too by the fireplace!
Sunday September 28, 2008 – 02:24pm (EDT)
I hope you come back this year too collect olives with us again.
Sunday September 28, 2008 – 09:59pm (EEST)
In principle I am very interested the olive, although, apart from consumption, all my knowledge is very distant.
But I am interested…
Are they really collected in December?? That seems very late. They don’t seem like Christmas things, like Satsumas do for instance.
I planted an olive close to the wall (1m) at my shared holiday house in France.
Am I a fool? Will the house fall down?? Can you move an olive tree?
How did Thales know what he knew dendrosophically speaking? He knew that water was important? Is it all-important?
Wednesday October 1, 2008 – 11:18pm (CEST)
ok, we have a full house now!
– The olive crop in the valleys and from terraces on hills is collected December the latest. The olive crop in the plains is collected sooner.
– Water is all important. The correct balance of water, that is.
– Olive trees are easy to transplant. You dig a big hole around the roots and then bring a crane to uproot the tree. It’s a nice tree, tamed and given to the humans by Athena the goddess herself. If the owners are hard working, the tree does whatever they want it to do. Even if you are not a hard worker, it is sufficiant that you talk to the tree every now and then.
(Did you follow the tradition and planted the tree when your son was born?)
– Who voted «no»???? A hawk of the stock market?
Friday October 3, 2008 – 03:56am (PDT)
There is also the sun.
«μέσα στον ήλιο αναγαλλιάζουν οι ελιές» = in the sun the olives rejoice
(The beautiful assonance of 4 «L»s in this verse by Kavadias is lost in the translation.)
Friday October 3, 2008 – 11:06pm (EEST)
I see in wikipedia
that there are some very long lived olives; they must be good at withstanding the hot and dry, as well as the frosty years. Also that they do best on poor rocky soils.
We planted ours as soon as we got the house. It’s not the mediterranean, but the soil is chalky. I may need to get a crane. And a beatiful tall straw hat.
Monday October 6, 2008 – 04:37pm (CEST)
After a few centuries people might call it: Simon’s Olive tree. The tree which the teller of tales planted and looked after. The tree under which he sat and told his tales. The tree that provided the oil for his salad and for the wheel of his eloquent tongue.
Monday October 6, 2008 – 12:37pm (PDT)
I voted ‘no’ not because I am a «hawk of the stock market» (:lol:), just a small business ordinary accountant. I voted no but because olive trees need A LOT OF WORK!
Tuesday October 7, 2008 – 09:19pm (EEST)
«…it is sufficiant that you talk to the tree every now and then. …»
I like that!
Wednesday May 13, 2009 – 01:26am (EEST)
That’s easy. The hard thing is to talk to the olive press factory man and stop him from polluting the rivers!!!!
Wednesday May 13, 2009 – 12:19pm (PDT)
-> the weather broadcast was right; the gale stopped during the night. At dawn the wind changed from south to north; clouds came from the sea and covered the northern part of the island. «Misty mountains» and deep gorges hidden in the fog :- wow -: I like this kind of weather. It makes me imagine I am in New Zealand ! I wish I could fly just for once only to take a panoramic photo of the side of the island: clouds on the mountain tops and stripes of mist in the gorges.
-> its raining; in fact it’s not; it’s spraying. Greek language proves very poor in terms of rain. They call this weather «very wet». I’m sure the English know better and they have a presice word for these crawling curtains of fog and swirling thin raindrops.
-> The gale was like «sandpaper». Now came the «very wet» (fog and spray) and there couldn’t be better weather for the vegetation. I saw my lettuces die yesterday then today I saw them live again. Lush new foliage shines on the trees. I think that the gale was useful («I’m swallowing ‘n swallowing»). There was so much dry dead stuff on the trees and the bushes and the gale removed it. Many old trees broke.
Sun comes now down through to the lighten and help grow the saplings. -> Felicia aborted; too young to have kitten. If she was human she would be 8 years old.
-> I’m wasting my time trying to take photos of thorny spurges. But I can’t. Spurges absorb the light like sponges. They are like «shadows». I take a photo and then instead of of the small round thorny bush, there is a green blur like a ball. The details disappear. I should have some super pro equipement and special spot lights to take a good photo of a spurge. Photographers who work with complicated hairstyles have that kind of equipement.
-> I have a fix for these plants. I believe they hold the island slopes in place so that they are not washed in the sea. I also love their texture. Outside they have a net of terrible and painful thorns and behind and inside this net there are very fresh tiny green leaves (+ small flowers!). They are usually oval and they look like «vegetable rocks». Under each one of them hide many fragile herbs and small bugs. They are the «poteria» (φρύγανα) and they are an «ecosystem» -one by one and many of them together as groups. I must find out how to transplant them. I’d put them along the sides of the digs and trenches the bulldozers make.
I heard that in Germany they take these as gardens. It’s very fashionable to have a mediterranean «poteria» garden around your villa instead of «gazon» (trop banal). After I retire (or before, why not) I may become a specialist in this: plant «sacropotera spinosa» gardens around villas. (They would give burglars a lot of trouble to cross, btw. I must take a notice of that for my marketing campaign -if & when..)
-> Nana, how much for the «La Fauve» painting? Wow girl ! What’s this? Ladies and Gentlemen, for your sake and pleasure I took the liberty to borrow and upload Nana’s portrait and buste in this entry. I don’t know what it is or how it’s made, but its 100% Nana «to agrimi» (=animal qui vit a l’etat sauvage), Athina, my friend.
** While I was writing this and trying to «swallow», I looked up at the sky (to let out my usual *big sighs* ) and what do I see:
THE FIRST SWALLOWS ARE HERE ~~~
El, I wondered if those were rocks or plants. Almost looks like moss-covered ruins in the background. The swallows, yes they came back here a couple weeks ago, the hummingbirds earlier and the warblers soon. Favorite swallow: purple martin; hummingbird: Anna’s; warbler: yellowthroat.
Monday April 10, 2006 – 06:08am (PDT)
A Doctor writes: Your «Yak» has had child. See Flickr. This will make you feel even more spring-like.
Tuesday April 11, 2006 – 08:37am (BST)
-> to Greg: I’m surrounded by birds, birds, birds, a couple of earthmovers (~sigh) and many many fresh dug terrasses with vineyards and gardens. There are two kinds of swallows, it seems. I understand now why ornithologists are a bit *nutsy*.
-> the Doctor takes pleasure in turning the knife in the wound.
Tuesday April 11, 2006 – 03:42am (PDT)
to Greg: I think that «my» spurges of Ikaria might look like those throrny srubs we see the wind roll and make fly in old «western» movies. How do you call?
Tuesday April 11, 2006 – 02:04pm (PDT)
Tumbleweed….we don’t have tumbleweed in England but we know all about the rain. Sounds like we would say «sheets of rain» from the conditions you describe…the Scots have a good word…Dreich … it would be ντρειχ in Greek tongue…that describes the kind of miserable soaking cold day. The swallows have come…and they sing…»
άνοιγ΄ άνοιγε ταν θύραν χελιδόνι
ου γαρ γέροντές έσμεν, αλλά παιδία. »
to quote a poet of the 7th century B.C.
«The swallows have come, Berlusconni has gone
Loudly sing «cuckou» »
To paraphrase an old English song.
Tuesday April 11, 2006 – 10:40pm (BST)
Sagebrush Elle, the dead ones rolling and blowing are called tumbleweeds. The desert on the east side of my state is covered with ’em.
Tuesday April 11, 2006 – 02:46pm (PDT)
Sorry to disagree Doc, but I call El’s rain mizzle.
Tuesday April 11, 2006 – 11:13pm (BST)
<<-terrific people->><<-terrific vocabularies->>
In my opinion, both «sagebrush» and «tumbleweed» are El’s thorny srubs, «astivi» (αστιβή) There are many kinds, all valuable in many ways. One of them hosts an edible herb inside it. It’s called «stamna-agathi» (Σταμναγκάθι). This herb makes a very expensive dish in fancy restaurants in Athens. This is the season for it, so El find it and take a photo. I hope it doesn’t «absorb light».
Wednesday April 12, 2006 – 01:05pm (EEST)
«mizzle» ! never heard that before! Another one for my «Derbyshire Dialect» collection. Thanks duck.
Wednesday April 12, 2006 – 07:53pm (BST)
«mizzle» is a nice word; I like «mmm» & «zzzz»s & «ll»s.
Thank you everybody. I’d rather look for the word in NewZealandese because the mizzle is not cold in Ikaria. It’s soaking wet and spooky and it makes you feel like bitting at someone’s throat.
Wednesday April 12, 2006 – 12:41pm (PDT)
I’m sure there are more wonderful words out there….!I would love to know the New Zealand equivalent. Drizzle is another word of similar meaning – but perhaps it sounds colder still, so not ideal. In case you were wondering, ‘duck’ is a Derbyshire endearment. ‘Aye up, me duck’ is a dialect way of saying ‘Hi there, love/ mate / pal» You sometimes hear a woman say it to another woman, but more commonly it is from a man to a woman in a friendly way. I had a boss once, who when he wanted me to do something always started his sentence with «Judy, duck,please could you…» So now, Eleni, you have a goat and a duck reading your blog, and the duck is especially happy that the swallows have arrived.
Wednesday April 12, 2006 – 11:00pm (BST)
«Papia mou» -so funny -:)) In place of «duck» in wet grassy places, I’d call you «kali mou» (=my good one or my pretty one) or cut short «kale». You must have heard that in Greek town streets. «kale Leni, stamata pia tis sahlamares…» =stop acting foolish (that’s for my blog -lol- created for and dedicated to ducks and goats, or I don’t love nobody and my scripts suck.)
Thursday April 13, 2006 – 12:25pm (PDT)
..Hello readers !
I was supposed to write about something else -’wildshots’ – today ( a fine day and everyone is relieved). It doesn’t seem I will, at least for the time being. Instead I will go on with playing with the snow. Though it’s not really uncommon on this island and it has snowed also in 2004 perhaps stronger than this year, it’s always so exceptional and fun. The main subject of conversation now is ‘have you been to the snow?”, ‘did you get the kids to see the snow?’, ‘what a pity that it didn’t snow where we live’.
Because snow is a good thing. It’s bad when you are homeless or you drive a truck in a highway for a living and that sort of thing, but basicaly snow has always been a good thing and that’s what the meteo man was trying to explain to the anchor woman on the Greek TV the other day.
She kept asking him ‘until when’ and ‘where exactly’ and ‘how long’ and ‘how much’.
The meteo man said:
“Some people may face some problems, but well.. snow is natural and if measures are taken,… well it’s a good thing, you know… snow. It’s the best form of abundant water we can get in a coutry like Greece.”
The meteo man’s name is Mr Lazanis. I felt sorry for him. These people have studied Physics, a positive science originaly meant to help people live in accordance with nature.
Anyway, after a good night’s sleep at Angelos’ house, I took one of his magical walking sticks and declared that I would walk all the way from Rahes (Ραχες) to my ‘barn’, which is under normal conditions a hike of about 2-3 hours without steep climb ups or downs. This is the first photo from this hike which turned up to an adventure. I did not complete it (and I lost the bet). Besides this, I had done something with the camera and all the shots came out the opposite of ‘sepia’ -a mossy green ! They are not bad, but I’ll not upload them on Flickr, except the last one which was on my way back to Rahes when I had found what setting I had to undo to return to colour. So here is …
A very confused lonely dog -wasn’t sure whether to bark or wave its tail to meThe pines in Rahes are ‘Pinus brutia’
They are trees which enjoy high altitudes and do not mind snow. The locals who love these trees (they are emblematic for the landscape of Rahes) are sorry when they see their lower branches break from the snow and fall off. Yet the snow ‘prunes’ the tree and lets it grow bigger and taller. Angelos adds that without snow these trees would load with branches and leaves and then when the terrible ‘sorocco’ blows in spring, the gale would throw all of them flat on the ground.I’m walking on a lane across fields and the last houses of Rahes...
Snow falling again!
There lives someone I know but I overide the temptation and go on because my name is Eleni Ikanou and this in Greek means ”capable”.
P.S. in Greece girls’ last names are always in the genitive, whereas only boys’ are in the nominative. Let alone the sexist side of it, this created a big bureaucratic problem during the years of Greek migration to America. Example: You are Mr Simpson and your daughter would be Miss Simpsons. Would the authorities accept it ? Now I hear that they have attapted to this just-one-more-to-the-so-many Greek madness. Let alone all that, I like the “-ou” (ooo) sound in my name.How capable one can be?
This is what the way in front of me looks like. The magical walking stick says ’30 cm of snow’ and my socks are getting wet.
Isn’t it obvious that I should get back?
It’s snowing heavily this time! The evidence is the flakes on my lence.
the rest in Flickr
you amaze me filenada
I just dropped by to say hello.
Monday January 30, 2006 – 11:17pm (EET)