Friday, January 21, 2011

A forecast does not guarantee a result

Perhaps so, but the weather forecasters here were bang on target when they told us that our run of fine weather would end after Thursday.  Rain fell through much of the night and has continued to do so through this morning.  The view today from my Methoni "office" is decidedly damp.


"Panselinos" (Full moon) casting a long reflection here onto the sea a few yards off Finicounda beach inspiring within yet longer reflections on my being.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wolf Moon

Yesterday evening, I turned half a circle from watching the sea rise to swallow the sun in the West to face a magnificent Wolf Moon rising in the east.  The exceptionally fine weather we have been enjoying here recently is forecast to change after today.  Will the passing of the first full moon of this year also serve to alter the torpid indolence in which I have been wallowing since the solstice?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reality or something other?

"It has happened to me, while taking solitary walks through the woods of Baarn that I would suddenly stop in my tracks and stand stiff as a board, overcome by a frightening, unreal and yet blissful sense of standing eye-to-eye with the inexplicable.  The tree there in front of me, as an object, as part of the woods, is perhaps not so amazing, but the space between it and me, suddenly seems unfathomable.
He who wants to depict something nonexistent has to follow certain rules.  Those rules are more or less the same as for fairy tales.

The element of the inscrutable, on which he now wants to focus attention, needs to be surrounded, to be veiled by a perfectly common everyday evidence, recognisable to all.  That true-to-nature environment, acceptable to any superficial spectator, is indispensable for creating the desired shock."

M.C.Escher in his lecture, 
"The Impossible". 1963

Αγιολεος - St. Lyon

Towards the end of the fifteenth century the Venetian Empire was in a bad way and losing ground fast to the Ottomans. Methoni, one of the 'Eyes of the Republic' - Koroni was the other - was a Venetian garrison vital to the security of her merchant ships on the sea route from the Levant. Fear among the population of imminent Turkish invasion led the authorities to give incentives and take such reassuring measures as they were able to encourage the population, essential to the efficient running of the garrison, to stay put. Incentives came in the form of tax exemptions and reassuring measures in the form of monasteries to accommodate Catholic monks. The ruins of one of these fifteenth century monasteries survive a short distance to the north of the the town, sadly abandoned and largely ignored. The monastery was dedicated to 'St Lion' and is known locally as Agioleos (Αγιολεος). The Greeks, it seems to me, concern themselves only with their glorious Classical history, anything more recent, with the exception perhaps of their so called 'revolution' early in the nineteenth century, is largely ignored. Given that much of Greece's post-Classical history is more foreign than greek maybe this disregard of it is not so surprising. Where Agioleos is concerned there is the added embarrassment, there being no love lost for Roman Christianity from the Orthodox Church, of the monastery having been a Catholic establishment. And so, unmarked and lost among brambles and olive trees, grazed over and fouled by sheep, goats and no doubt shepherds, seen only by those who can be bothered to seek them out, the ruins of Agioleos continue slowly to crumble.
Disastrously for those who were persuaded to stay all measures designed to keep Methoni in Venetian hands failed. In August 1500, after almost three hundred years of Venetian rule, the Turks entered Methoni; a hastily abandoned town of smoking ruins.
That the belligerent advance from the East of the Ottoman Empire was extremely damaging to the prospects of the Venetian Republic can not be doubted but equally, if not more damaging to its future prospects, was the completion in the last months of the fifteenth century, of Vasco da Gama's nonaggressive round trip to from Lisbon to India via the Cape; a voyage that was to deliver a terminal blow to both the monopoly of overland routes from the east and of their continuation from the Levant, across the Mediterranean, into Europe.

The Limna of Pappas (The Priests’ Lake)

This delightful hidden and rarely visited bottle-necked inlet from the sea is only a short distance along the shore north of Methoni. Its tranquility is guaranteed by the several hundred metres of heavy going through pathless rock and tough thorny scrub that surround it but a little bruising of shins and blood letting of hands is but a small price to pay to be at this quite amazingly peaceful, beautiful place.
Sunlight reflects from the rippled surface of the 'lake', projecting infinitely mobile vaporous images onto its rocky sides; fresh water, invisibly rising from below the sandy bottom creates amazing patterns on the water's surface. The 'lake' fills the bottom of an inverted natural cone which protects it from winds from any direction; it is therefore a wonderfully quiet place, silent but for the gentle tinkling of water rippling onto rocks and the cotton-wool soft murmuring of the sea at the inlet's narrow entrance.
I have no idea from where the place came by its name. There must, of course, be stories attaching to it, but I have yet to hear one.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another hard day at the office

I have been here an hour or so now.  I am feeling rather guilty on two counts; one is that it is the Lord's Day and I should be reflecting on my being, the other is that because the sun is blazing down outside I ought to be doing something productive in the garden or, if not that, at least wandering about somewhere on this beautiful morning.  The fine weather must, sooner now rather than later surely come to an end.