Sifnos. Easter 2009
SIFNOS – FOOTNOTES
Dawn. Still half asleep. Wait, where are the babies? Are those babies crying? No. Bleating of sheep. Cow bells. Church bells.
Opening Daphne’s window. Lavender everywhere. The scent of lavender fills the house. We wake up with lavender. We sleep with mauve dreams.
The poppies are so red on Sifnos. Brighter than red. Brighter than blood. Red redefined.
The yellow daisies fill Kostas’s window. Daisies everywhere, daisies blowing in the wind, turning towards the church, away from the cemetery. Life affirming. Funny. Sweet Margaritas.
Stellios tells me that Sifnos is a balanced island. A serious island. An island of no extremes. Not the most intense of islands.
He cannot be serious. An island with these poppies, these fortresses, these churches dropped like snowflakes on crags, on rocks, on tiny promontories, the Doric and Ionic columns of 500 BC mixed with the ancient sarcophagus in someone’s back veranda…Wait, what, then, is the meaning of “intense”?
The kastro. The fortress. Overlooking…no, overhanging, the blue green sea, the wine dark, the azure, the bottomless. The winding, small alleys, the small village houses which grew up over the centuries on an ancient Minoan fort, then modernized when overtaken by the Greeks perhaps 500 years before Christ. Those Greeks couldn’t live with Minoan plumbing. Nor Minoan columns. They implanted the modern. Pieces of still white marble columns, mixed in with the medieval stones of 1500 AD, and the rough stones of today. The walls embrace them all. The arches span them, the walls and the years. The children play ball in the alleys, just like several thousands of years ago. Same games, same sea views, same dreams.
The anastassi in a tiny village church. I ask if it is a new church. “Yes, rather. Built around 1650.” They are lifting layers and uncovering the original hagiography. The baby smiles, the mother is sad, the man slays a dragon - all the emotions, fears, joys, anger, shown on the faces of the saints. Just like the old gods.
The earliest hymns of hope…the children sing them by memory. They know the words, they were born knowing the words. Incense, candles of beeswax, chants, mysticism. These are not Protestant churches.
Back to Athens. Back to the modern.
But still mauve dreams.