Cold Crisp Light

Christmas officially started on Symi on Wednesday morning when the town tannoy crackled into life. A male voice said, ‘Ela, ela ’ (the Greek equivalent of ‘come on’ or ‘let’s get on with it’) and then the rickety strains of ‘Greensleeves’ bounced around Yialos harbour. Meanwhile the Proteus came in early, on a marathon run combining Wednesday and Thursday’s routes and bringing all the Christmas provisions onto the island. There were protests in certain corners of Chorio when it was discovered that the fresh produce market had omitted to put the long-ordered Brussels Sprouts on the ferry. Personally I prefer red cabbage braised with apples and Symi honey for my Christmas dinner and eat my Brussels Sprouts as a warm salad in the spring with toasted hazel nuts (on those rare years that the sprouts actually survive on Symi), but I can see that for those in the Anglo-Saxon community who have more traditional tastes this was something of a blow. Apart from roast suckling pig (there is an unfortunate specimen hanging from hooks in the display fridge at the butcher next to Antoniades), Greek festive food has its emphasis on abundance rather than any specific menus or dishes – a combination of traditionally making the most of what is available locally and in season rather than hankering after the unobtainable, and relatively mild wet winters which make this the middle of the growing year rather than a period of scarcity. Great bunches of fresh rocket and dill, magnificently muddy beetroot with fresh purple-veined leaves still attached, crisp Kos lettuces, citrus fruits glowing in heaps of golden yellow and orange on the back of the hawker’s truck – these are a celebration in themselves.
Christmas Day was clear but very cold. The thermometer only made it as far as 8 degrees centigrade at midday and on 26 December we woke to frost on the back window of the car. It is starting to warm up again as the next rainy front reaches us but will turn cold and windy again from Monday with bitterly cold weather expected for New Year’s Eve. The winters in Greece alternate between relatively warm rainy weather with southerly winds and cold clear dry spells when the wind blows from the north. There is snow on the Turkish mountains quite close by now and more heavy snow is forecast for both Greece and Turkey.

The photographs show Pedi bay, first in the cold crisp light of Christmas Day and again this morning under the lowering skies of a new weather front. This view is enjoyed by many of the houses in the upper part of Chorio and is one that I never tire of looking at. Whether one is looking at the pretty amphitheatre harbour with its tiers of neo-classical villas or the play of light and shade on sea and slopes, it is difficult to find a bad view on Symi!

Have a warm and peaceful weekend.


Anonymous –   – (Sunday, December 28, 2008)  

Wonderful photo, Adriana. As you pointed out, it is rare to see Turkey so clearly across the channel.
I have enjoyed your blog throughout the year, Long may you continue to write it. Have a good 2009.

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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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