Ode to Eressos

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Michel Muller
Michel Muller

I went to Lesbos, an Aegean island close to Turkey, and Vento, a Greek hunting dog, was my constant companion in the village I called home.

Eressos has taken my heart and gobbled it for breakfast. It’s made me feel betrothed. For keeps, I think.

Michelle main
Eressos has taken my heart and gobbled it for breakfast. It’s made me feel betrothed.

The dawn burns orange-red along the serrated edge of a stubborn mountain, volcanic rock solid in the armour of ages. It purls into pink. The edifice whispers eternity. And in my bed, I embrace  the rising sun; lie still in its ancient embrace. I watch the lightening sky smile into day.

The village of Espressos beneath the mountain
The village of Eressos beneath the mountain

The mountain doesn’t budge, no matter how hard the sun strikes. It’s paid its dues, you know, that mountain.

For 30 million years it’s cradled the fertile landscape that flows from its feet, a flat sea of bounty that lopes across a beautiful plain, the kampos.

Millions of years, and the mountain peaks still guard the sea; they’re stoic in their stance, unmoved by the placid, silky summer Aegean. It ripples in sun-beam strips; in winter, a roaring roiling giant, rude and crude, foul mood.

I break some white cheese onto my plate. The saltiness sticks to my fingers. I lick it, and pop … a plump black olive hops into my mouth. A boiled egg dawdles in its shell. Tomato, succulent slices bleed their best. Yum!

My Greek hunting dog, Vento
My Greek hunting dog, Vento

I watch the foam rise in my briki, and whip the utensil from the flame. Coffee’s ready. And so is my Greek hunting dog, Vento. We walk into the mountains, Vento and me.

The long, blonde grass waves, sighs. The trees lean towards us, they sway. They nod their heads, these trees, hello, hello, sweet thing. The fruit, baby baubles, glisten taste-tomorrow. The ripening can’t be rushed. And the sheep’s bells sing as the woolly ones jostle, jolt, just to tear grass and nibble. Vento’s got her nose to the ground. This way. That way. She follows a scent. Her panting rouses the silence.

Our footsteps are loud. True. Our feet crunch the gravel and the rhododendrons splash colour in fragrant valleys. We leave tracks to follow home. And puffs of pale dust cloud our ankles. The conkle tonkle of sheep bells floats, rises on the breeze; into the mountains, slowly to the pine trees next to the church, maybe those at the riverside.

It’s nice in this village, with new things to do, or not… We submit to the pace of the place, siga-siga, no faster than a flock of sheep ambling along the road.

We walk two, three times a day. Our favourite places are cool, secluded, where the pine needle carpet is soft and the air a kiss on the skin.

We rest there, under the pines, Vento and me.