Wednesday, 13 June 2018

June 12 - Smugglers & Co


Have you ever tried to sit in a suitcase? Last week port officers opened the suitcase of a traveller boarding the ferry to Athens and in it they found an illegal refugee. It was not the first time that they have come across this desperate manner of smuggling. 

On Lesvos there are people smugglers, in the North of Greece, in the mountains close to the Albanian border, the police have to deal with other smugglers: Albanians who sneak over the border to steal tons of, often very rare, mountain herbs. They set up hidden camps from where the pickers swarm over the slopes to gather their loot, using faithful donkeys to transport their loot back over the border to their own country where they can sell in all freedom the herbs for good prices.

Tea and a rare species of sage are high on their wanted list, but most favoured is cowslip (Primula vera) whose dried flowers and roots can be sold for more than 20 euro per 120 gram, or they may ask 34 euro per 25 plants. This way these smugglers earn in one month what they normally earn in a whole year.

If they did the picking in a professional way, or left an address card behind in order to share the profit, Greece may not have taken such extreme measures. But these smuggler gangs uproot plants in such a hurry, that they destroy whole fields and thus threaten the future growth of the plants. Now plenty of donkey caravans with illegal herbs are catched onthe smuggler routes.

Lesvos does not have that problem: no primula veragrows on the island and it does not border Albania. Even ifthe Turks were to get the idea to come and steal herbs on Lesvos, no bags with thyme would reach the other side because thanks to the people smugglers the island is very well guarded. And besides, Turkey itself is a Valhalla for herbs, where you can, without danger of getting arrested, uproot orchids, something which is forbidden in Greece (and in the whole of Europe). 

Lesvos is rich with wild oregano, thyme and sage, that is harvested by the locals in pretty modest quantities. They may even not know yet the new Greek law from 2014, saying that you are only allowed to pick herbs for your own usage: ½ kilo a person, per day. They just do not realize that it’s money growing in their fields. Maybe it is better this way, otherwise they would loot the mountain slopes like the goats eat all the greenery.

On internet I have only found two companies specialized in herbs (and olive oil and salt) from Lesvos: Melima products and Nissos (Greek food). I take it that they have a permit and do the harvest in a professional way. 

Rock Roses (Cistus creticus) are wanted by the pharmaceutical industry because of its etherial oil. A north Aegean firm has now made a deal with a big company to deliver 800 kilo of Rock Rose from Lesvos. I wonder if they also have a new way of harvesting, because these flowers are not the easiest to be picked: in the heat of the day, when the flower petals sweat that fragrant oil. Or will they use the old method: chasing goats through the Rock Rosebushes, and afterwards picking the oil from their coats.

Now while tourism on Lesvos is still very slow – people may still be afraid of little boats with refugees landing on the beach – it may be time for some people on Lesvos to think again what business they open. The island is not only a paradise for tourists but also offers plenty of opportunity for herb picking (wanted by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry) or seaweed cultivation (food of the future). With a bit of vision you could do better than opening the umpteenth restaurant or hotel for tourists who are staying away.

Last week I saw an, unknown to me, man dragging an enormous bag full of oregano on his back. Under the large load he made himself as little as possible. For sure there was more than half a kilo on his back and no donkey or car to be seen: it must have be hidden somewhere in the bushes. Was that an Albanian who crossed the border illegally and took the ferry to Lesvos in order to get some of that first class oregano of this island? If he is not caught along with the stowaways going back by ferry, there might be a truck waiting for him in Kavala that will bring him back to his country, not over the smaller smuggler routes but just over the highway: the new smugglers’ way. It is good that there is no primula vera on Lesvos, otherwise we might also become a smugglers’ island and then tourists might be frightened away totally! 

(With thanks to Mary Staples)

©Smitaki 2018

Friday, 1 June 2018

May 28 – Perky islands

(Caperflower and caperbuds)

Greece has so many islands that nobody can count them. That’s what I think when I read on Wikipedia that this country of Olympic gods has 1200 to 6000 islands. Most of them are probably so small that you do not notice them. Wikipedia gives a definition: “An island is a piece of land, on all sides surrounded by water, smaller than a continent but bigger than a rock or a sandbank.” Meaning when you have two rocks sticking out of the sea, it is officially an island. This explains why it is nearly impossible to count all islands of Greece.

The islands that are inhabited are easier to count: between 166 and 227. However it still seems odd that there is no exact number. Might it be that some 60 islands are some years inhabited and in other years deserted? The islands are at least divided into an exact number of groups: Cyclades, Dodecaneses, Sporades, Saronic, Ionic and Nord Aegean islands, to which Lesvos belongs, together with Chios, Samos, Ikaria and Lemnos.
Each island is a world of its own. They all have their own history, culture and climate. For instance the bright yellow broom on Lesvos will have finished its blooming, while on the more southern Samos it will still be spreading its sweet fragrance. On Samos you will also find blood-red anemones, while on Lesvos they will be long gone. On Samos you’ll see trees heavy with sweet oranges, a fruit only to be seen in the winter on Lesvos. I have been told that those are the ‘so-called’ summer oranges. I never knew those existed, but what a juicy treat!
Samos conquered the world with its sweet dessert wine, but great white and red wine is also produced in its vineyards, the vines gathering as much sun as possible high in the mountains. There you will also find thick sweet honey, due to the many flowers growing wild. Lesvos also has tasty honey, but the island is far less green than Samos, which in certain places looks more like a jungle. There you will hear the jackals crying at night (no other Greek island has jackals); yet there is barely space for grazing sheep and goats, plenty of which you will find on Lesvos. Many lovers of flowers weep at seeing a place shaved bare by sheep where once rare orchids flowered (sacrified to the excellent goat and sheep cheeses the island exports).
In ancient times Lesvos wine was even more famous than that of Samos, but that skill never came back. It is now ouzo for which Lesvos is famous — distilled following centuries’ old spice recipes. On each Greek island you will find Lesvian ouzo like Babayannis, but I must admit that the Samian ouzo Giokarini might be equally good.
When I regularly came to Chios and I told people there that on Lesvos they eat flowers, more than one Chiot had a big laugh because of its silly neighbours. Stuffed courgette flowers are unknown on Chios. There they throw plenty of capers and even caper apples over all their salads, while lots of people on Lesvos do not even know that there are caper plants on their island and have no idea what they look like. I have to admit that the caper bushes don’t grow everywhere on the island, contrary to Samos, where they seem to have as many caper bushes as they have grapevines. But on Samos I never saw a single caper on my plate*. There, available in each restaurant are the chickpea balls, while those are, as far as I know, only on the menu of one restaurant on Lesvos — Meltemi in Skamnioudi, and those are far more tasteful than all the chickpea balls I ate on Samos.

Salted fish, a beloved appetizer on Lesvos, was absent from most Samian menus (only marinated anchovy). Like the sardelles pastes, a speciality on Lesvos, made from the famous sardines from the Gulf of Kalloni, one restaurant on Samos offered salted sardines, but they were salted days before. I did not dare to order them. According to Lesvian cooks, the fish should be salted just a day to half a day before they are eaten. This way they keep creamy and soft. Furthermore sardines should be served only during high summer, when they have eaten their bellies thick and round. In June the real sardines time starts.
Each island has its own speciality: dried capers from Santorini, haloumi cheese from Cyprus, mastica from Chios, wines from Lemnos and so on. When counting the islands is already a difficult job, what a Herculian task it would be to register all those specialities? How many culinary treats do all those other islands still hide?

*Restaurant Eptastadio, just before Pappa's Beach in Ireon, does serve capers in some dishes. It is beautiful situated and has wonderful food. Worth visiting!

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

©Smitaki 2018

Sunday, 20 May 2018

May 18 – The best spot of Samos: Karlóvassi

(An old building in Karlóvassi)

For one summer in the Eighties I worked for a travel agency on Samos in Samos Town. I saw little of the beautiful island, because my time between working hours was mainly spent on Gangou Beach, in those days a quiet city beach with only one taverna that had just two music cassettes. The whole day through, only the voices of Alexiou and of Parios (ena gramma) floated over the blue water of the bay.

In the evening I spent as much time there, but with different music: first in the disco, then at the bouzoukia which was above the disco. In my memories, each night was a party with heart-melting Greek songs, lots of hoppa hoppa and broken dishes.

The floor of the building where I spent so many languorous evenings and where the legs often swept through the air —now a derelict and unsafe building, standing as a sad Greek ruin at the end of the now fully developed Gangou Beach. All the sunbathers who are now relaxing there have no idea what great evenings that dilapidated building once offered.

Why an order to demolish it has not been made, I do not know. Unlike Lesvos, Samos does not have that many ruins, especially not in the capital Vathy. To find them you have to go to Karlóvassi, a place that I hated in the year I worked on the island. It was a place to quickly pass by because it seemed to consist of only huge ruins. Now I walk among them and admire all those crumbling walls of factories that once gave Karlóvassi such a splendid life. 

Samos had its first golden century during the reign of terror ofPolycrates (540 - 522 BC). The famous mathematician Pythagoras – who had some revolutionary philosophies – had fled from this tyrant to the South of Italy. Having some hundred warships, Polycrates played a role in world politics. He was good friends with the Egyptian pharaoh Amasis who paid him handsomely to defend Egypt. However when Polycrates became friends with the new king of Persia, that flow of money stopped; the Persians occupied the country of pyramids and the armies of Sparta and Corinth attacked Samos. Its huge defence walls stopped them and so Polycrates was able to continue his leadership, but soon after, crazy for money, he walked into a trap of king Oroutos who killed him. 

The history of Karlóvassi starts at the beginning of the 17thcentury, when settlements nestled in the mountains around a large fertile plain, where they grew mainly grapes. At the end of that century, Karlóvssi was the richest town of the island. Just like on Lesvos and in the whole of Europe at the end of the 19thcentury the grape plague phylloxera ended all viticulture. They then started to grow tobacco and to produce leather. How rich the town became can be deduced from the great mansions that arose, huge churches, various schools and even a horse-driven tram. Further history is a bit similar to that of Lesvos: the union with Greece and the war with Turkey slowed down the flourishing economy. The arrival of hundreds of refugees in the Twenties and the economic crisis in the Thirties brought the industry nearly to a stop and that is how the great Karlóvassi became partly a city of abandoned factories. 

The area Ormos with its old industrial buildings is many times bigger than the same like area of Yera on Lesvos. It is pretty lively because of an explosion of building fever. Between the old dilapidated buildings, houses have appeared in all shapes and colours and even hotels have planted themselves inbetween. For some unknown reason, nobuilding istouching anotherone.It has a remarkable effect on the 'boulevard', stretching along the sea with old glorious buildings along merry newly build houses. 

Lots of tourists on Samos are interested in the historical legacyof Polycrates: the temple of Hera, the Tunnel of Eupalinos and the walls of Polycrates. Only a few take interest in the more recent heritage that mainly can be seen in Karlóvassi. From a period when commercial vessels occupied the harbour, factories blew great steam clouds into the air and families in large mansions dominated daily life.

Todays Karlóvassi is partly populated by students that give the town a lively fresh air. The townhasn’t erasedthe past, but witha bit of anarchism included itin its new structure. That anarchism seems to have seeped in from the surrounding mountains where a lush jungle-like carpet of plants, bushes and trees is growing. Between these amazing dense woods, in between vineyards, many churches hide, amongst them one in a cave like a cathedral. The ruins of a Venetian castle dominate a hill not far from refreshing waterfalls and some villages built high in the mountainsare a placesof interest because of their superb views. Now that there is no more bouzoukia at Gangou Beach, I think Karlóvassi is the Hot Spot of Samos.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

©Smitaki 2018

Thursday, 3 May 2018

April 28 – Island of water

(Panagia Zoodochos Pigi at Faneromeni)

When you think about the Greek islands, you see white little houses and blue water. Green hills, ruffling trees and juicy meadows are not in this cliché. But – especially on Lesvos – in the winter green is the ruling colour. Only after the flower explosions in May the landscape slowly looses life and the grasslands turn straw-blond. People only coming in the summer and autumn may not know this.

This year everything is different. After the pretty wet winter, the rains extinguished, temperatures shot up andcreatedsomething close to a heatwave in April. The month felt like May where the heat of the day was compensated by nice cool evenings. Also nature, suddenly without rain, reacted: the landscape withered rapidly and yellowed. I wonder what kind of summer will follow.

Lesvos, being rich in many natural sources, will never dry out, at least that’s what I thought. But you see that some of those rich with water wonders do disappear. It is said through the grapevine that it is the farmers who are to blame. They drain natural sources, causing streams to dry out, for example the Pessas waterfall at Achladeri, that for years now just drips a bit; and the waterfall at Klapadosalso seems to have had its best watery time. 

This week I visited the little church Panayia Zoodochos Pigi on Faneromeni beach next to Sigri. Zoodochos Pigi means life offering source (one of the many names the Holy Mary has). Indeed there used to be a source in the church that is built around an open cave. Downstairs in the cave is the altar, behind it is a huge opening in the rocks, where the source used to be. There alsoonce was a little river going from the church to the sea, where you could find huge delicious oysters. 

The beach where the church has been built is named after an apparition of Holy Mary (Panayia Faneromeni). It is not clear if she was spotted at the cave, or just sunbathing on the beach. Maybe that is why the beach and the church have different names. I did not see any Maryin the cave, just a fat mouse climbing up and down the huge cross behind the altar. So there is life in this little church: the rustling even sounded spooky. When I shone a lamp at the hole in the rock behind the altar, a big black and silver snake slithered from the hole. I got a fright and ran back up the stairs. You never know what life this source is giving! 

But there was no water to be seen, even though the weather gods poured so much water over the island last winter. Later somebody told me that he had seen the little church being built and even tasted those holy oysters. But since so much agriculture came to the region, slowly the source dried up, as did the little river. 

Faneromeni is not entirely dependent on the Gods of the desert. A river still ripples through the landscape towards the sea, with photogenic reeds, croaking frogs and lazy turtles. It remains a watery region with abundant vegetation. 

One monastery on the island did not lose water, but got a whole lake in front of its gate: the Pithariou Monastery at Erèsos is named after the gorge (which looks like a jar), that it oncelookedover. Of course it was not like from one day to the other the new lake was there andthe monks could go fishing. It is a water reservoir built to tame floods and to provide water for the local agricultural.

Lesvos has other reservoirs, like the one at Molyvos and the reservoir at the Sedoundas river, high in the mountains above Plomari.

The island nearly got another reservoir: in Eftalou.
Last week my toilet did odd things and when the plumber came to have a look he found a huge pool under the house. The house could have sailed away on this big underground lake. Tree roots had blocked the drain pipe and the hills above the house collected so much water that a reservoir had built up. It took hours to get the water away through the unblocked drain pipe.

Now I suddenly think that maybe we should have kept this reservoir. With the summer already started in April, how much water will be left in August? But then I would not have been living besides asky blue lake like the monks at Pithariou, but in a swampy brown one, a paradise for mosquitos. 

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

©Smitaki 2018

Monday, 16 April 2018

April 14 – Rock Roses

(Cytinus ruber)

What is the biggest flower on earth? It is the Rafflesia arnoldii whose solitary flower can reach a diameter of one meter, and rightly calls herself Queen of the Flowers. This vegetal colossus hides herself so well in the jungles of South Asia that she is rarely spotted. But when you meet her, you might think it is a flower made of foam, so odd she looks. 

In Europe we have to live with her bonsai version: her nephews/nieces Cytinus ruber. These little flowers do not look at all like the Queen of the Flowers, but they do look odd. They grow in bouquets, the outer flowers female, the inside ones male. The whole lot looks like a bunch of radish because of the globular forms and the bright pink-red-white colour. Myopic people might think it is a fairytale red mushroom with white dots. They grow under the jungle-like empire of the dark green leaves of the rock flowers. 

They have more or less married those wrinkle flowers, as I call these merry sunflowers, whose bushes of white and pink coloured flowers cover many hills and mountain slopes on Lesvos. Hidden under the leaves the parasite Cytinus ruberlives on the invisible roots of the rock flowers.

Somebody told me that her father always picked those flowers and ate them straight away. They might taste like honey. I haven’t dared do this: they also look a bit like mushrooms and in the mushroom world the colour red means poison. But on the internet you can read that these strange plants without a visible stem or leaves worth mentioning are indeed edible and that locals might serve them as a replacement to asparagus. These days wild asparagus still wave with fat young shoots through the air, preferably in the middle of thorny bushes, where it is impossible to get them without your clothes being torn apart.

Greeks usually make an omelet with wild asparagus. If we are to trust the internet, you could also make an omelet with cytinus. It would certainly be a special and colourful dish. The medical world is interested in an extract of these plants to treat dysentery, throat tumors and as an astringent: thanks to the rock flowers, whose roots are the lifeline of the cytinus.

Rock flowers do seem to sunbathe all day and appear useless, but their bushes do work hard to make a kind of resin: landanum. As easy as it is to put a cytinus in your mouth as a honey bonbon, it is difficult to harvest this sunflower resin. It’s the flower petals that sweat out drops of the resin, which is best collected at the hottest hour of the day. In ancient times clever farmers had their goats rush through the rock flower bushes, and afterwards they combed the sticky, valuable resin out of their rough coats. In the middle ages this precarious work was done by monks who flailed a leather belt through the flowers. It is mainly the cosmetic industry that still wants this resin to make perfumes, soaps and deodorants. But you will see no more monks beating the bushes, they now harvest the flowers and little twigs and boil them until the resin comes floating on the water. 

Rock flowers are not monogamous: they also like to pair with mushrooms, plenty of which can be found in their neighborhood in autumn. Another beloved partner is the desert truffle (Terfeziaceae). This descendant from the truffle family does not have a strong taste and costs about a tenth of the price of those so valuable better known truffles. Collecting them will probably not make you rich. But wouldn't it be nice to have a pinch of desert truffle over a cytinus omelet or a honey bonbon? So, we really do have to kneel down on the ground and look for those truffles right under the rock flowers!

(With thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018

Thursday, 5 April 2018

March 30 – Dying boats

(A traditional fisher boat in the harbour of Skamnioudi)

In the story of The Mermaid Madonnaby Stratis Myrivillis a fisherman takes his boat to Mytilini. In the past, lots of people used the sea to go places. Going from Mytilini to Molyvos, you could wait for a ferry, and even though the ship came from a distance, it was a regular connection. Going over the water was in many cases much more comfortable and quicker than crossing the rough mountains on the back of a horse or a donkey.

Greece was a seafaring nation. It is even said that the first inhabitants arrived by boat. But I don’t believe that, because Lesvos used to be glued to the Asian plateau, and it’s from there that hunters, mammoths, prehistoric elephants and apes came to explore the region. Seeing all that water the hunters must have begun fishing and it would not have taken them long to start to build boats in order to catch more fish.

In Ancient Greece warships formed the main fleet. Even when their conflicts were not fought mid sea, soldiers had to be transported over the sea, like during the Trojan war or the Battle of Marathon against the Persians. Also mythology tells us lots of adventurous sea tales, the best known being that of superman Odysseus, who could not find his way back home after the Trojan war. He did not have an astrolabe, an instrument to show your location on the oceans (that was invented either in the 2ndcentury BC by Hipparchus, or in the 4thcentury by the first Greek woman mathematician Hypatia; the scientists are not sure). But from that time on you could no longer come home and get away with telling your wife that you were lost at sea. So ships were for commerce and war, and some for fishing to feed all the men.

At the end of the 19thcentury, business on Lesvos was booming and the shipyards had plenty of work, some of them became famous for their craftsmanship, like those in Plomari and Perama. First they looked for the right trees, then they started the sawing and hammering. The craft passed from father to son.

One of the many pleasantries in Greece today is to settle down in the shadow of a terrace in a little harbour, or just in the sun when summer is not yet there. As is: enjoying screaming seagulls sailing over the water, little waves babbling at the quays, schools of curious fish looking for some crumbs to fall into the water, strolling passersby and a fisherman mending his colourful nets, little boats swinging softly on the heave, their splashing colours mirrored in the water, so often photographed as an abstract beautiful painting.

Skala Sykaminia, Molyvos, Gavathas, Skala Loutron, Plomari, Skala Mystegnon: those are just a few of the many little harbours we have on the island. Lesvos has more harbours than it has terraces at the sea, also more terraces than traditional little wooden boats, and more traditional boats than shipbuilders. 

Europe, keen on getting the fish quota down, offers a subsidy for destroying these colourful little wooden fishing boats. As if they are the cause of overfishing! The sea has become so emptied of fish that local fishermen feel obliged to take that evil offer, just to survive. 

Twenty years ago the Greek traditional fishing fleet consisted of 14,200 boats. Now there are some 2000 left. If these numbers concerned animals, they immediately would be added to the danger of extinction list. Who will protect the local Greek fishermen, the ship builders and their traditional boats?

When recently I was in Palios I saw some skeletons of wooden boats. They were not Greek. Turkey does not take this European subsidy, but they have their own way of getting rid of their old wooden boats. They sell them for a lot of money to smugglers, who put as many refugees as possible on the creaking boats and send them off to sea. Most of these boats do not survive the illegal landing on the rocky shores of Lesvos. Sometimes I have had to cry at seeing such a beautifully crafted boat, built with so much love, only to end up dying, without honour, as a smuggler’s tool.

There is plenty of money to finance expeditions to find antique ships that centuries ago ended up on the bottom of the sea. And they now give plenty of money to destroy museum pieces. What a strange world we are living in!

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

©Smitaki 2018

Saturday, 17 March 2018

March 15 – Poisoners

(Snow drops on Lesvos)

Those Russians, with pointing fingers flying far beyond their borders, seem to think that they are like the ancient Greek gods. The attack with nerve agent in England on a double spy and his daughter has sharpened international relations. I wonder why they left such a clear fingerprint. There are less complicated ways to poison somebody. Socrates for example, sentenced to death because he neglected the then ruling gods, choose as his cup of poison, an extract of hemlock, a plant easy to find here.

The Greek gods were no darlings either, especially if you offended them. They used nature to realize their nefarious plans and knew where to find everybody everywhere, just like Russia nowadays. You can fill an entire herbarium with people changed into herby plants or waving trees. Hyacinth once was a very pretty young boy, killed by a jealous god and revived as a beautiful scented flower by Apollo. That same Apollo once chased a nymph, who was changed by her father into a laurel tree in order to escape Apollo's love making. Minth was a nymph in love with Hades, who got changed into that lovely herb by Persephone, Hades' jealous wife.

The gods knew their botany. Circe, daughter of the sungod Helios, was even a specialist in herbs. As Goddess of magic she is considered to be the first witch mentioned in literature. She brewed mean drinks and changed, in combination with her wand, people in animals. According to Homers' Odyssey she lived in a huge palace in the midst of woods, where plenty of tamed lions, tigers and other animals roamed. When Odysseus and his men sailed to her island, she welcomed them in a great way and organized a rich banquet in their honour. Odysseus, tired, remained with a small crew on his boat. The men who continued partying, however, changed into boars, except for one, who hadn’t trusted Circe and run back to Odysseus to warn him. When Odyssey set off to save his men, the god Hermes stopped him to tell that there was a herb that resisted the magic of Circe: moly it was called. So Odysseus chewed on some moly's and without fear of Circe's magic he persuaded her to change his men back into humans. When Circe promised not to harm him with her magic, this Trojan hero stayed for one year at Circe's palace, to party and to love.

According to Homer, the plant moly, that originated from the blood of the giant Picolous, has a snow white flower and a black bottom. Curious as always, science tried to find out what herb Homer was writing about. Scientists do not believe in magic and think that Circe gave the men something that made them hallucinate, thereafter behaving like pigs. The galanthus has a substance (galamantina) that annihilates hallucinations, so it is said that moly is a snowdrop.

These little flowers have properties that matter. Theophrastus long ago mentioned their anti-poison faculty and nowadays those snow white flowers also are used in the battle against Alzheimer’s. Their playful clocks jingle in order to call the spring. However they are not the only ones calling out for this season: the island has just had its yearly transformation into a colourful flower park. In all kinds of colours, anemones giggle on grassy lands, tapestries of daisies stretch lazily under the olive trees, dandelions and other yellow flowers colour the grassy verges of the country roads, along the sea purple-pink gillyflowers open amongst spare grass and stones at the beach and orchids appear in special places.

Last week we went to the chestnut woods above Agiasos. I did not expect lots of flowers in the dark, moist wood, but we were immediately welcomed by masses of alpine squill, like the blue sky did descend on earth. So enchanting! It got even better. A little further on, we were greeted by meadows filled with thousands of snow drops. It looked magical! It was only the second time I have seen these little snow clocks on Lesvos.

I wonder if these delicate flowers (or any other plant) can be used as an antidote for nerve agents. Nature has an answer for mostly everything. The Greek gods knew that: they didn't need complicated formulae or laboratories to punish people and did not leave chemical tracks. They just took what was needed from nature.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018