Early Morning Calm

Temperatures rose sharply over the weekend and there is a definite feel of summer to the air.  In the Pedi Valley the oregano (rigani) is covered in white blossom which is, in turn, covered by numerous small copper coloured beetles.  It is the petals of these flowers, when dried, that are used to season everything from Greek village salad (choriatiki) to potato crisps.  The bushes have quite soft, tender leaves at this time of the year and wilt very quickly after cutting.  As the weather becomes drier this soft growth hardens and becomes twiggy and brown.  In a few weeks we will also see the small prickly purple cushions of wild thyme bushes dotting the hillsides above the road between Yialos and Chorio and on the hills above St Nicholas beach. Wild sage bushes are more common higher up the Vigla and on the plateau and they started flowering a month ago.

There is a charming wonkiness to Symi that is reflected in nature as well as in the wobbly symmetry of the architecture.  Walls undulate and poles lean in all directions.  Rooms in old houses seldom have right angle corners and is as though much of the island was built over the centuries 'by eye' rather than with any measuring tools.

Old houses lean in towards this lane leading to the Platia in Chorio, better known as Syllogos Square or Chorio Square and a popular venue for more intimate Symi Festival events.

The island of Nimos in the early morning calm, as seen from the top of the Kali Strata.
Nobody lives there. That is a small monastery, looked after by a family, but the only animate objects on Nimos for much of the year are goats and sheep for whom the steep slopes are
no challenge to grazing.

When I approach this corner of the Kali Strata on the walk to work I am always eager to see if there is anything new or unusual docked by the clock tower. Some mornings it is quiet and empty, as is the case this morning.  On other occasions there are glamorous yachts and cruise ships or flotillas of yachts. We may also be seeing with greater frequency than has been the case in recent months, our old friend the water boat.

An unfortunate recent reversal in the island’s infrastructure is that the desalination plant on the Pedi road caught fire one night last week and would appear to be irreparable. The whole casing is burned and sources say that the mechanics inside have melted. The cause would seem to have been a short circuit but the result is a return to the old system of water boats from Rhodes for the foreseeable future. We are all making sure that our cisterns are full as it is unlikely that central government is going to pop a replacement on the ferry from Piraeus any time soon. Regular visitors to Symi and those of us who have lived here for more than four or five years all remember ‘water days’, when the town supply was turned on to specific areas for a couple of hours each week so that we could receive our ration of water for the week. This went into the cistern of the house and had to last until the next ‘water day’. Then a continuous supply, but still based on water boats from Rhodes, was implemented which meant that when one opened a tap 90% of the time water came out but one never knew when the 10% that it didn’t was likely to occur. Well, hopefully we have gone back to the 90% state of affairs rather than the old ‘water days’ because in the meantime an awful lot of houses have done away with the cisterns and have nowhere to store a couple of tonnes of water from one week to the next.
Have a good week.



Annuk  – (Monday, May 16, 2011)  

Beautiful photos! I always enjoy reading your blog, Adriana!
Sorry to hear about the water problem, I hope they find the best way to garantee enough water for the whole island, especially now that the tourist season is starting and more visitors will stay on the island.
I live in the Alps, where there is plenty of water, and I can only imagine how bad water shortage must be...

Anthony –   – (Monday, May 16, 2011)  

I hope that the desalination plant was insured!

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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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