Spring has Sprung on Symi

Mimosa madness in the town square, Yialos.

The valonia oaks are covered in tassels and humming with bees.

Every scrap of wasteland is covered with daisies and chamomile.

Even the  most neglected citrus trees are laden with ripening oranges and lemons.

An old courtyard wall in Chorio has become a vertical garden.

Freesias in front of the hardware store in Chorio.

Pink doesn't get any hotter than this.

As I was walking down the Kali Strata this morning I heard a snicker and a bleat.  It was a nanny goat, trimming a fig tree.  Her colouring makes her virtually invisible against the rocks and if she hadn't made a sound she would probably  have been unnoticed.

Her friend emerged from the ruin next door,  munching some rogue nasturtiums.  Now do you understand why the municipality defers weeding the Kali Strata until the last minute?

Fresh fish for sale from a step in Chorio.
After a stormy few days and some heavy rain - yes, even in Greece we can have wet bank holiday weekends! - the weather has cleared. A brisk north-westerly wind has dropped temperatures back to the levels they should have been in February and the children are dressed like little Eskimos as they head for their chilly classrooms. As far as nature is concerned, however, the equinox is only days away and flower power is taking over. Summer time visitors may think of Greece only in terms of bougainvillea tumbling over walls and pots of pelargoniums, the stuff of postcards and brochures, but the cooler months of the year bring forth a far wider range of flowering plants than those clich├ęd stalwarts. The shady places in the Pedi valley are still carpeted with wild cyclamens and the corona daisies are waist high on open ground.

The long-range forecast remains fairly cool and there is the possibility of rain again on Friday night and Saturday. Who knows? Perhaps we will make up for the drought of February after all.  As Greek Easter is quite late this year, at the beginning of May, a wet March isn't too much of a disaster as there is still all of April for painting houses and shops and whitewashing steps. Most of the restaurants and tavernas are still closed or engaged in essential maintenance such as cleaning cisterns, servicing refrigerators and fixing up tables and chairs.  Job lists are being drawn up and plans made.  One advantage of the seasonal nature of Symi's business is that the cafes, tavernas and restaurants on the island have a thorough clean out every year and everyone starts the season with fresh stock and new paint. There are no forgotten corners as everything is taken outside and the whole place scrubbed from top to bottom.  The Greeks take spring-cleaning seriously.

Greek Orthodox Lent has officially started.  Unlike Catholic and Protestant Lent where denial is part of the definition and virtuous children give up chocolate and sweets, Orthodox Lent focuses on giving up those foods that contain blood and to a lesser extent dairy products. This means no meat but lots of seafood, taramasalata (cod roe) and sesame products such as halvah and tehina.  There is an amazing array of recipes for fasting cakes and confections, using oil instead of butter, and vegetarians can also dine very well at this time of the year with lots of seasonal vegetable dishes. If you are visiting Symi in April you will find some unusual and delicious seasonal specialities on the menu that  you would never have the opportunity to sample in July!

Have a good week.


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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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