Monday, January 24, 2011

Enigmatic emotions

When  I set out with a companion to stroll to Cape Akritas, the southernmost point of the Messinian peninsular the forecast  was for reasonable weather and we were both in need of some serious exercise.  Our stroll began with a stiff climb which served for us its intended purpose of taxing hearts and lungs that had been allowed through recent days to become far too sedentary.  Beyond the steep incline the track became gently undulating for a while before descending down a long, gradually sloping zig-zag to a pebbly beach from where there was clear sight of our objective.  The peninsular point is easily accessible from the beach but we had walked briskly and without a break for two hours or more; my thighs were talking to me as was my companion’s back talking to her so we saved the scramble over a few hundred metres of wet pebbles for another day and rested on a rock to enjoy our sandwich lunches.
Post sandwich, the soporific rhythm of waves breaking over a just-off-shore rock drained from my senses both the leaden feeling in my thighs and my mild concern that I might have brought my companion too far.   Watching low waves roll onto the rock, break and sluice down its sides I felt very much at one with the earth and at the same time with the sea.  IMy mind closed to all but a beautifully intoxicating sense of well being - a sense that I could I be no more content than I was there in that spot at that time.
The sound of a pick-up truck bumping down the track snapped me out of my reverie.  My companion said something about our private and secret place becoming too crowded.  Together we watched the truck driver park his machine at some distance from us and stride onto the beach where he appeared to be collecting something; seafood of some kind perhaps?  The disturbance was a cue to begin the stroll back.
The gradual rise up the zig-zag track allowed us to regain height with surprisingly ease.  On our way up we stopped several times to take photographs; of healthy pine trees, of conical hills with tracks spiralling around them which my companion called ‘Tolkein’ hills, and of a sick and dying yet beautifully resplendent pine tree.   We also crossed paths with an itinerant farm worker, here from Romania for the olive harvesting season.  Seemingly, if a little shabby of dress, this less than young man was well enough fed and although his pay would be little he smiled broadly to give us the most wonderful display of gold teeth.

I am aware of a strong connection between gentle strolling and the contentment that is happiness.  If, when I sense the onset of destructive emotions such as tedium, weariness, concern or irritability, I can muster the will to go out and stroll, the process of so doing is the equal of a curative drug.  I do not know why this is anymore than I understand why certain places or the company of certain people can similarly elate me while other places and other people can occasion the want of a long stroll.


Anonymous said...

Top two photos are sensational, and the others are mighty fine two. You have got me seriously interested in visiting Greece, as I've never been. I don't handle the heat well though (being a Scot). I'll need to research when it is likely to be just pleasantly warm (for a Scot, ie cold for a Greek).

John Foster said...

Be warned, friend, my images are deceptive. Last night the east wind blew with such force as to necessitate my battening all shutters; this morning at ten o’clock daylight has yet to show, there are fast flowing streams of rainwater rushing past the house and the air is full with the continuous rumble and regular loud report of thunder. But this too will pass and paradise will be regained.
All wise men, and the Socratic irony of your blog profile marks you as one such, will eventually be moved to visit Greece. The best time to be here is spring, March and April, when the county is blanketed under wild flowers and the scented air is filled with the fluttering of myriad butterflies. The ritual of Easter in a Greek village, both the sacred Orthodox Easter and the secular Easter nautch with which it is inescapably woven, is worth experiencing.
October, when there is something of a ‘second spring’ can also be very pleasant.
Far more encouraging to the purpose of leaving the dark north country for Greece than my snapshots can possibly be are two books; Pausanias’, “Guide to Greece” Vol.II and Henry Miller’s, “Colossus of Morosi”. Pausanias ought to be a model for all guide book writers to follow (Sadly he is not!) and Miller conveys in words, succinctly and with great accuracy, exactly what is different and so special about being here in Greece.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all that John.