Well, today the sunshine finally returned after over a week of changeable and mainly wet weather. It's not only us, but Greek friends here too, who think that we've just experienced the longest sustained spell of rainy weather for over a decade. Normally the rain comes in three-day cycles during a Rhodean winter, but since last Tuesday the 7th, when it clouded over mercifully after the Help For Health Gennadi event (organised by Dimitri Koronios, owner of the delightful and homely Summer Breeze Hotel in the village) had gone off successfully, as had the parade, it's rained every day and at times heavily.
The rain is very welcome and any locals who have vegetables or trees to care for are hopping up and down with glee but, if I'm honest, I was pretty glad to finally wake up to bright sunshine this morning and it's been a pleasure to mooch around in the garden for several hours before lunch. I took the above photo of the gate into the orchard about an hour ago, to show that lovely carpet of yellow flowers that we always get at this time of year. They're a weed I suppose, but what an attractive one, eh? Here's a close-up...
I love these little beauties because, as I've written before (some years back now though) our friends' children love to pull a flower stalk and suck on it because it tastes of lemon.
Weather-wise it's been an interesting winter. Following two extraordinarily dry ones this one's helped to redress the balance somewhat. In fact the local Rhodean newspaper reported just yesterday that we've had the same amount of rain on the island this past week as we normally get for the whole month of March.
Daytime temperatures throughout this winter haven't been much different from the average, but we did have a month and more of very cold nights. Just about every Greek we know has said that they can't remember a winter when the nights were so cold for so many nights in succession. Now though, it's pretty much as one would expect for this time of the year. It's that little 'window' each year when inhabitants of the UK get all excited about having temperatures on a par with us from time to time.
The bright, fresh weather has prompted her indoors to get all frisky both with washing and her wardrobe. The bed earlier today was stripped and sheets ripped off and rammed into the washing machine. Jackets, skirts, dresses and stuff were thrown from the wardrobe on to the bed to the point at which one could hardly see the bed for the clothes. She has a good 'sort-out' now and then and that's quite right too. The only problem we have here is that when you end up with a few carrier bags full of stuff you want to dispose of there are no thrift or second-hand charity shops to which you can take them.
There is, however, an unwritten law about sharing second hand clothes, even some household items. You don't expect to get anything for them, but then that would be the case if you donated them to a UK charity shop too, right? But what one does here (and I suspect all over Greece) is to take the clothes that are too good to be thrown out and pack them in a decent plastic bag or two. Then you go the the nearest roadside rubbish bin (has to be a four-wheeler of course, the public ones) and either deposit the bags on the ground next to the bin or hang them on one of the shafts that protrude out from either side of it - those thingies that the rubbish trucks use to hinge the bins with when they're lifted and emptied into the back of the truck.
You can bet your very last dollar that some Albanians or Bulgarians will be along in a trice and they'll whip those bags away in no time. In fact, ever the thrifty wife, my better half has been known to have a rummage herself and has on occasion found some pretty good stuff, books included. I too rescued about ten undamaged beer glasses just a few weeks ago after probably a local bar owner had decided to put them by the bin. Not all that long ago an Albanian friend of ours turned up to a social gathering we also attended wearing a woollen jumper that my wife had left by a bin in the manner described above. To be honest, we were delighted to see our friend wearing it and she looked very good in it too. The system works well.
Why, though, do you not find second hand stores here in Greece like you do in the UK? It has to do with the culture. It doesn't matter how poor you may be, if you're Greek you don't buy second hand, not even if it's for charity. The sense of family pride in Greek communities is acute. No one likes to be seen to be in any way worse off than their neighbours. It's something that runs very deep and goes back centuries. It applies to other areas of life, not just clothes. I've probably mentioned before about how many Greek islands, owing to their small gene pool, have a higher than average incidence of children born with defects, be they mental or physical. Many families simply cannot cope with having a disabled member, it's almost seen as evidence of failure on the part of the husband or wife to produce a sound baby, at worst even the result of someone having placed the 'hex' on them. Thus in darker times past such poor unfortunates were shipped off to Leros, the island where they have a hospital for primarily mentally disadvantaged people. It is changing slowly, attitudes are gradually modernising, but the more rural you get the more the old ways still prevail.
The same principle also applies to use of public transport. I'd never really given this a lot of thought until last week, when I was talking to Tony and Sue, a couple who've recently arrived here to start a new life. Just goes to show, however much you think you may know, you can always learn something. Nowadays there are younger folk who need to get from the villages to Rhodes town for college or perhaps work and these will more often than not be seen boarding a bus. Older folk though, as Tony pointed out to me, they still find it very hard to bring themselves to get on a bus. If any neighbours see them, once again it's like an admission of poverty. 'Oh dear, can't poor Kyria Whatshername afford a car?' That's how they reason and it may sound far-fetched, but it's true.
Still the majority of passengers on the public buses during winter time are Albanians, Bulgarians or other immigrants. In fact, our own experience bears this out. I've written about a few experiences that we've had picking up hitchhikers in my "Ramblings From Rhodes" books. Hitchhikers here on Rhodes don't look at all like the mental picture one would normally conjure up. They're usually old ya yas getting from one place to another and they don't stick out a thumb, oh no. They'll step out in front of you and wave an arm as if to say: "Oi! Stop!! You can fit me in..."
As I mentioned in the books, we've even ended up going on wild goose chases like the time when an old woman we'd picked up made full use of our kindness by asking us to take a detour or three while she did a few errands, even whipping out a pair of secateurs at one of her 'stops', availing herself of a few choice roses from a hotel's garden, then having us take her to the cemetery where she wanted to place them on a grave!
Anyway, to return to the glorious sunshine outside today, here are a couple more shots taken out in the garden...
|Here you can see my lamentable veggie patch with pathetic excuses for lettuce and onions.|
|That's where I sat to take the previous shot. I made the bench. Good eh? All right, there's no need for that.|
|While weeding the gravel pathways, I grabbed this plant around the stem to pull it out when, just in time, I realised that it's an orchid!! Needless to say, it's still there.|