We usually avoid the Saturday market during the tourist season, a busy time on the Pelion Peninsula, as it’s extremely crowded and parking is always a problem, but today we drove up knowing that things would be quieter. Most of the vendors are regulars who occupy the same positions year round, while those who come only during the summer to sell their wares set up tables along a side street. Those summer sellers are gone now, but there was the usual throng of hawkers around the crossroads, selling their goods from the back of a van. Fishmongers, their vans surrounded by cats; gypsies selling handwoven baskets alongside cheap, machine-made carpets; Mr Cluck-Cluck as I’ve dubbed him, who sells chicks from his big truck parked in front of the church, and several souls, usually older men, selling produce from their lands. These chaps are my favourites. They may have only a basket or two of fruits and vegetables, perhaps a few eggs. They sit on the low wall around the church, on a carton, or on a chair they might have brought along, chatting away and catching up on all the news. This is organic produce in the fullest sense of the word. Organic with a capital O, no mass production here. The tomatoes are fat and fresh, so fresh. They are round and red. They often have their stalks. They have blemishes. They are absolutely delicious!
There was a vehicle there today I’ve not seen before, perhaps because I haven’t been to the market for a few weeks. Two men were selling cheese from a small white van with sheep painted in rather romantic style on the side.
I intended to take a photo of this artwork, but it quite slipped my mind once I got caught up in the excited discussion.
They had come from Crete, Greece’s largest island, with their cheese, travelling by ferry – an overnight trip. They handed out samples, cut with a penknife, no plastic gloves.
“Here, taste it!” I managed to avoid doing that, and bought a whole cheese, a small one instead. It is very tasty indeed, quite mild and fairly firm. We ate some for lunch, with wholegrain bread still oven-warm from one of the village bakeries, honey-sweet tomatoes from a delightful character outside the church, sprinkled with basil from my garden, and our own oil and olives.
“So, what’s this cheese called?” enquired my husband, and you know, I forgot to ask.
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Tagged bakeries, basil, baskets, carton, cheese, chickens, church, Crete, eggs, ferry, fishmongers, fruits, garden, gloves, Greece, gypsies, handwoven, hawkers, island, mass production, olive oil, olives, organic, Pelion Peninsula, penknife, sheep, summer, tomatoes, tourist season, van, vegetables, village, wall, wholegrain bread
The long narrow Pelion Peninsula projects hook-like into the Aegean Sea, curling its tip in a warm hug tightly around the waters of the Pagasitic Gulf on its western coast. The gulf is very deep; its waters conceal many a wreck, both ancient and modern, not to mention the treasures lost by would-be conquerors and pirates. Wonderful beaches and inlets abound, several of which are accessible only by boat, where the happy sailor may find his own particular bit of paradise.
The gods of Greek myth took their summer vacation on Mt Pelion at the head of the Gulf for they knew a good thing when they saw one.
The Pagasitic’s waters are usually calm, their gentle winds making them popular with sailors though they can erupt in fury when disturbed by strong gales. The sea reflects every colour presented to it in weather fair or foul, constantly changing hues depending on cloud cover, proximity to sand and rock, to flower, bush and tree. Spectacular sunsets explode in all the fiery colors and fade away over shades of blue, green, turquoise, navy; storms and rain have their own striking palettes.
The Pagasitic Gulf fascinates me with its beauty and history, inspiring me to knit this shawl.
The ancient Greeks sought to explain thunderstorms as resulting from the temper tantrums of Zeus who liked to hurl thunderbolts around when enraged. Not known for fidelity to Hera, his wife, the mighty god was rather fond of larking about with nubile nymphs, causing Hera considerable grief. Tempestuous were the rows which resulted. We seldom experience a thunderstorm in Summer, whereas now, as we move ever so slowly into Winter, we have had some spectacular ones, with more expected; maybe Zeus and Hera are regaining their energy in the cooler weather.
Mt Olympus Home of the Twelve Gods
Zeus rumbled and grumbled all night long, stumbling about from North to South, from West to East in an ever-changing pattern. Just as we seemed assured of a heavy downpour, the great mass of cloud shifted its attentions across the Gulf from us and a massive hailstorm destroyed almost all the almond crop in Farsala.
Here on the Peninsula we know better than to trust the weather reports completely, and a common response when one asks about the weather forecast is: “Look out of the window.” The Pelion Peninsula is rugged and rocky. Gorges and gullies abound. Rivers and streams flow from the mountain’s ravines, particularly during the Winter rainy season when many a summer-dry river bed can turn instantly into a raging torrent, bringing floods and landslides in its wake. The area has so many mini weather patterns that it’s probably a meteorologist’s dream, or more likely his/her nightmare but it’s always interesting.
Zeus and Hera have clearly not resolved their differences this morning. Ominous black clouds sulk in the North, and though we can’t see Mt Olympus from here, I imagine the atmosphere’s pretty bad up there.
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Tagged almond crop, ancient Greeks, Farsala, Hera, Mt Olympus, nymphs, Pelion, Pelion Peninsula, thunderbolts, thunderstorms, Twelve Gods, weather forecast, Zeus