When I awoke this morning and went
outside, it took me a while to see what was missing. Many times I have looked
out over the sea and mountains, but today there were no clouds in the sky.
Would this day be one of the very few cloudless days of this summer?
Clouds arise when humidity is
sufficiently high that water vapour high in the sky condenses into raindrops
and ice crystals. Clouds seem to do whatever they like and often make
unexpected moves. Yesterday, I had a telephone conversation with a friend and I
told her that at any moment there could be rain on the island, because huge
thundering ‘cauliflower’ clouds above Turkey where attacking the Lesvorian coast. When the call
was finished and I went outside, the threatening culprit had totally vanished
and the clouds had retreated far into the Turkish countryside. Now you probably
think the telephone conversation was hours long, but the disappearing act took
only fifteen minutes.
This cloud theatre above Turkey is
not new. Over the summer, more than once, you could enjoy a performance that
consisted of attacking and retreating rumbling thunderclouds, while the island
didn't get hit by even one drop of rain. But equally it also happens that this
voluptuous mass continues its surprise attack so quickly, that before you can
run for cover, you will be soaking wet. And they are smart, those clouds,
because after discharging their water, they disappear as quickly as they
dropped the rain and suddenly you will be looking into a cloudless sky.
This summer the cloud theatre was
pretty active in Greece. Many a tourist did not appreciate their performances
at the beginning of the summer, because the rain continued repeatedly until the
middle of June. But also in July and in August clouds were hanging out in the
sky, a bit bored but ready for some action. They were just like naughty kids:
as soon as they saw an opportunity, they caused some uproar. They made it rain
on several occasions in July as well as in August, which is very rare for a
Some weeks ago they even presented a
very special night performance, so unusual for Lesvos. One night, I had dinner
with some friends in Vafios and when we were driving back down to Molyvos we
saw low clouds besieging the village with long stretched fingers. Our first
reaction was that there must be a big fire somewhere, but upon approaching the
village, there was so much condensed humidity that it could only be clouds that
seem to have fallen from heaven. It did not roll out of the sea, like sea mist,
but came in a mysterious way from the land. First the castle was swallowed and
then the entire village and when we arrived in the village you could not see a
hand before your eyes (a Dutch expression saying that the view is very poor).
The people that we could see roamed around in a kind of chaotic way, because
nobody knew what was happening. For a while Molyvos seemed to be the village
out of the famous movie The Fog (1980), where a coastal village gets engulfed
in a thick fog, bringing with it the ghosts of mariners who had died in a
It could have been a nice finale for
the summer theatre season, but obviously the clouds were not yet ready to give
up showing their tricks. As soon as September started, they ganged together,
multiplying themselves and took the colours of frightening grey and black. This
time they were ready for some heavy 'pop-up' performances. So when I wanted to
show the beautiful place of Agia Anayeri to friends, we were surprised with a
thunderstorm play that was so heavy that for a few seconds I was afraid that
the Mt Olympus (on Lesvos) had joined the play with a volcano eruption and for
days after my eardrums were still roaring. The show did not move from the
mountains and had us captured for ninety minutes in the local taverna, where we
happily found shelter, and drank lots of coffee.After we finally were able to be on the road again, in half
an hour we reached the coast and you probably will guess it: all clouds had disappeared
from the sky.
This cloud company stayed for many
days above the island and enjoyed itself with many such performances all over
the island. They even frightened tourists who had fled the island in May or
June due to the bad weather and who had returned to the island hoping for a
second chance holiday and a cloudless vacation. The rains also woke up the
snails much too early (they usually finish their big summer sleep after the
first rains at the end of September or in October) and drunk from the rain they
were chased onto the roads where they were picked up by greedy Greek hands to
be thrown into the stew pots. Snails are said to taste the best just after
their summer siesta.
The advantage of a summer full of
clouds is that on most evenings you will be presented with a sparkling sunset.
To be honest: a cloudless sunset is boring and these water masses are the ones
who can add spectacular colours at the sky as daylight is fading. Even the last
Supermoon, who performed this summer three times, was less sensational than the
cloud theatre. Last night he shined big, bright and yellow over the Lesvorian
landscapes, but the orange ball going down into the Aegean Sea was just as
impressive due to some clouds.
I am wondering if sardines like
clouds. This summer most of the sardine nets in the Gulf of Kalloni, remained
empty. It seems that there are some years that sardines do not come to the
island in their usual big numbers and so my favourite dish of salted sardines (sardelles
pastès) was hard to find this summer. Was
it the clouds that stopped them from coming because they could not show off
their silver coats in the sunshine or was it a bunch of dolphins guarding the
entrance to the Gulf, feasting upon all the sardines trying to get in? This
year for sure one speciality of Lesvos will be rare: tinned salted sardines
Meanwhile some minuscule clouds have
appeared over the horizon. But they look friendly and innocent - in Holland we
call them sheep clouds. I hope they predict a beautiful end to the summer, free
from a cloud theatre: kalo ftinopero!
For years nothing has really
happened on the island and suddenly there is a sparkling summer full of new
events: at Sigri lots of new petrified trees have been found, Anaxos got
connected with Molyvos by train, the opening of the OXY has put the island on
the map for partying youngsters, many new charter flights have made the number
of tourists grow. A few days ago the island got a new ferry between Mytilene
and Izmir in Turkey, and the Spanish company Iberdrola started working on the
creation of a so-called energy landscape: the windmill park in the west of the
island. This part of the island will be turned into a new tourist attraction:
listening to the buzzing rotation blades and looking up at the 67 meter high
windmills, that will (just like the sequoias many millions of years ago) reach
high into the sky. And all this is happening in a UNESCO geopark!
Lesvos (and Chios and Limnos) must
be a Valhalla for Iberdrola where they can pick the money out of the air. It is
not a facility but a commercial business: the electricity generated by the 153
windmills on Lesvos will be sold to the highest bidder party and this certainly
will not be the island. In a Dutch tv-series (Ik vertrek; (http://www.npo.nl/ik-vertrek/16-08-2014/AT_2016060) about emigrating Dutch people they
showed a family that went to Spain and had to wait more than one year to get
connected to the electricity net of Iberdrola, who owns most of the electricity
facilities in Spain. Or maybe the family is still waiting to be connected. So I
guess this island must be dealing with a bunch of smart and trustworthy men.
Another novelty on the island is the
custom office in the harbour of Petra. Gates and buildings are all ready to
receive tourists who want to make an excursion to Turkey. But the capital
Mytilene is not ready at all: they, of course, prefer to keep this boat
connection in their own harbour, afraid that otherwise no tourist will ever
visit Mytilene. As of now, there are no custom officers available for Petra.
In ancient times Lesvos consisted of
a small number of city-states, although it was Methimna (the original name of
Molyvos) and Mytilene who dominated the island power structure.When you read the history of the island
you will see that lots of different people held power, like the mythical king Macaras,
Amazons, Persians, Athenians, Egyptians, pirates, Romans, the Italian family of
Gateluzzi and the Ottomans. Changing powers on the island was never peaceful,
and sometimes Mytilene and Methimna supported opposing sides.
Mytilene used to be an island
connected to Lesvos by a small strait that connected the harbour in the south
with the one in the north. For pedestrians they say there were beautiful marble
bridges. Some archaeologists think Mytilene used to be the Venice of the East.
However the strait silted up and it was decided to fill it up, this way
improving the defences of the castle. Nowadays the main shopping street Ermou
runs where the strait used to be.
To be honest I have no idea where
Methimna got its power and wealth. Like Mytilene, the city had its own coins, a
large and strong castle, but no commercial harbour. But the two cities
regularly fought for the power over the island.
In the year 428 BC Mytilene, a new
member of the Delian League (a league composed of different Greek states),
planned a revolt against Athens, which as the head of the Delian League, had
misused its members. They first tried to get all city-states of Lesvos together
but Methimna, a good ally to Athens, did not want to support the revolt.
Mytilene secretly reinforced its fleet and bought extra grain in readiness for
war with the Athenians. But even in those times there were spies and before
Mytilene was ready, word reached Athens, and Mytilene was soon surrounded by
Athenians.The Athenian Assembly
or ecclesia had to decide about the fate of Mytilene.
Well, to be honest, it was a much more complicated situation, but the fact is
that Athens decided that all men from Mytilene should be put to death and the
women and children be sold as slaves. They started with slaughtering some
thousand prisoners, but then the Athenians started wondering how they had
become such barbarians. They asked for another session of the ecclesia and
there a certain Cleon said that the punishment should be carried out, but
another speaker – Diodotus – pleaded that it would be better for Athens if the Mytilenians were kept
alive so that they could remain a future ally for Athens. The citizens of
Athens agreed with Diodotus and that is how the Mytilenians were spared.
I bet that in those times a citizen
of Methimna was not welcome shopping in Mytilene. But in any case, this second
debate of the ecclesia has gone down in history as the Mytilenian Debate.
If today you were to organize an
ecclesia here on the island, it probably would still be a matter of decisions
being taken by the party who has the best speaker. For instance there were
lobbyists from Iberdrola who spoke to the citizens of West-Lesvos, promising
them that the windmill project would provide them with lots of jobs and money.
I guess the speaker of the other side, amongst them environmental defenders,
had probably nothing to offer but a warning of a natural disaster. The
inhabitants of the west said yes to the large project, maybe not fully
realizing that their habitat will be changed drastically by the building of 100
of kilometres of new roads, six metres wide, that are needed only for the
installation of the windmills - windmills that will soon terrorize Nature with
their flapping sounds.
A citizen assembly is also needed
for the question of the tourist boat going from Petra to Turkey. It will be the
Mytilenian shopkeepers opposed to those in the north and the travel agents. I
say first they should all read about the Mytilenian debate, so that reason will
win. Most tourists who stay in the north and west do not come to the island for
Mytilene and just get irritated at having to travel so far in order to take the
boat to Turkey. Mytilene should not complain because they have just got a brand
new connection with Izmir, along with different planes from Istanbul.
Even though Lesvos is nowadays one
municipality, it looks like the mayor favours his capital. He should realize
that it will be better for the whole island when tourists spend more time in
the villages and less time on the road and in buses. It seems to be the old
song: Mytilene against Methymna. I wonder if Athens will have to intervene…
Have you ever noticed the great
number of stones on a Greek island? Just like the Lesvorian landscape, that
proudly shines with its stones and rock formations. It was millions of years
ago that volcanic forces ravaged and reshaped the island, so that now we can
admire whimsical rock formations - like the mountainsides built-up of columns
(columnar lava), horizontal stone plates that seem to be on the brink of
falling down, or enormous rocks which were catapulted by the force of the
eruptions and now lie scattered around, just waiting to be made into a
Lesvorian Stonehenge Centre.
The monastery of Ypsilo, which has,
without doubt, the best view over the stone desert of the West, has been built
on the Ordymnos, a so-called lava dome (see it as lava that gets pushed upwards
and forms mountains). Also the tops of Lesvos' biggest mountain range, the
Lepetymnos, are lava domes, as are most of the mountaintops surrounding Eresos.
The famous mermaid church at Skala Sykaminias has been built on lava rocks.
Filia, Avlaki and Alifanta present 'so-called' dikes, plates of horizontal
stone (solidified magma) sticking out in the landscape like enormous
ridges.The Panagia Glikofiloussa Church
in Petra has been built on a 'so-called' volcanic neck (the solidified end of a
canal transporting lava when the volcano was active, with the sides now
The volcano’s also petrified thousands of trees,
so that we now can enjoy the beautiful Natural History Museum in Sigri,
where you not only find trees, millions of years old, but where you can discover all sorts
of other fascinating geologic aspects of the island. If you don't fancy popping
into a museum during the hot weather, or you don't want to go for a stroll in
the Park of the Petrified Wood during the soaring heat, you might venture out
by car from Andissa towards Sigri, where just after the junction to Eresos,
there are construction works going on to widen the road. Digging into the
ground they have found a whole museum-full of new petrified trees. Upon
discovery they are first covered in plaster to protect them, thus creating a
landscape of white phalluses. When you take a closer look at where the earth is
removed you might see other trees, branches or roots that were covered by lava
and rain millions of years ago, thus getting petrified and transformed into
colourful fossils, and now seeing daylight after so much time.
During the last few weeks the Greeks
have been under the spell of another road construction discovery. Close to
Serres in the northern province of Macedonia: a gravewas found, where two sphinxes
and a huge statue of a lion (resembling the Amphipolis lion) stand guard over the entrance. The
enormous grave dates from the time of Alexander the Great (356 – 323 BC) and because the last resting
place of this great warlord has never been found, lots of people hope he will
be hidden in this grave. Other, more sober, persons think it might be the grave
of Alexander's wife Roxane.
Alexander the Great and his wife
Roxane are known worldwide and the discovery of their grave would bring lots of
publicity. So too, I could imagine, would the discovery of the grave of Sappho
during the road construction at Sigri. However, the very important
archaeological finds made this summer on Lesvos seem only to have attracted the
local media. For a few years the archaeological service of the University of
Crete has been digging around Lisvori and what they have found has not been a
statue of a lion, but lots of stones that served 150,000 to 500,000 years ago
as tools for the inhabitants of Lesvos. That means that the site is the oldest
archaeological place in Greece and the East of Europe.
Can you imagine that where we now
drive around in rented jeeps and cars, people used to roam in search of food
with spears and axes hewn out of stones? In those times there was no
agriculture. People survived by hunting animals and finding plants. Apparently
the hunting fields of Lesvos were plentiful, especially around the Lake of
Kalloni. The lake was only much later connected with the sea after a severe
earthquake. Prehistoric animals as big as elephants, camels, rhinoceros, deer
and huge tortoises were all living on the island (some bones of those animals
found near Gavathas can be seen in the Natural History Museum of Vatera in Vrissa). People in paleolithic times did
not depend on planes or boats: it is thought that the island was then still
connected to the Asiatic plateau, so that it could be reached by walking.
It is known that the Romans used to
come to have a holiday on the paradise-like island of Lesvos. I guess that
people in the Stone Age were not familiar with the concept of vacations. When
they wanted something different, they just moved elsewhere to another place and
I bet in those years Lesvos already was pretty popular, due to all the tools
that now have been recovered.
So stones can be mighty interesting.
Without knowing you may have in you hands an antique item: a prehistoric axe or
spearhead. Stones on Lesvos can also provide more surprises: they can sometimes
hide amethyst or quartz. Even gold and silver used to be mined on the island.
Other less flamboyant stones can
also surprise you. During volcanic eruptions, pumice can be made, as was the
case during the eruptions on Santorini: lava cooled so fast that gas got
trapped inside the clot. This porous stone has the attractive attribute that it
can float. I read about it by accident and when the next day I took a stroll
along the beach I could not believe my eyes: there was a piece of stone
floating on the water! I thought that I might not have seen them before,
because I had not known their story. A few days later I saved another piece
from the sea, but since then I have never again seen stones swimming in the
Although I do like birds, I will
never become a birdwatcher: I haven't enough patience for that. And I can
imagine that in order to pry on birds you need to study a bit. How else would
you recognize a bird? Lesvos is a birdwatch-paradise and I often see odd birds
and then think: what can that possibly be? The flamingo is the easiest bird on
Lesvos to identify. For that I do not need a book. Same for the Black Storks.
They of course are easy to recognize, but are not easy be find.
The real trouble starts when seeing
a heron or a (white) stork. Sometimes, when driving with friends along the
saltpans of Polichnitos, I say: “Look, there's a stork”, when, according to my friends, I
am actually pointing out a heron. I have no idea what the small stilt-walkers
are that roam the same waters. I have never studied the bird world and I rarely
write about it. I did once write about those strange flamingos. And I was so surprised at finding
a huge information board about the colourful red shellduck in the middle of nowhere in Palios,
that I had to mention that phenomenon. As far as I know it is the only
information board about a bird on the island. They should install more of those
boards, especially along the saltpans on the island.
I do see often seagulls and it seems
that here on the north coast you can even spot different species like the
Audouin’s gull, the Yellow-legged gull and the Yelkouan shearwater (this bird
looks like a gull, but is not a gull). My intention now is to learn more about
birds and so I have bought a book (only in Dutch: Vogels kijken op Lesbos [Watching birds on Lesbos] by Luc Hoogenstein), and hope that
this will make me a bit wiser about the birding world. The book describes all
the important birdwatch-places of Lesvos and also provides a list of what birds
you can expect at those places. Very handy. But I think this is a book for the
more advanced. I mean, I can learn to say all those names by heart, but how
does such a bird look? It would have been better if each name was accompanied
by a small picture. Now I have to go through the whole book hoping that there
will be a photograph of the bird I have just seen. How do I find, for example,
the little bird I saw with white spots on its sides? Even on the internet that
will be a Herculean feat.
Another bird that I see nearly daily
is a crow. Well, that's wrong. The black birds here that sit on the electricity
cables and scrabble around in the fields and the beach are not crows. It has
taken me some time to decide whether that are crows, ravens or jackdaws. But I
think they are jackdaws (corvus monedula), because they are partly grey and they are
recognizable by their beautiful eyes with a yellow circle around the dark iris.
Even though jackdaws are big birds, it seems crows are even bigger and ravens
are as big as an enormous bird of prey. It is good that their family members
Eurasian jays and magpies are so much coloured that they at least are easy to
The big birding season is, of
course, in the spring. But even during the past months I have seen lots of
birds, sometimes very bold in stealing my fruit. Even though the crickets now
sing louder than anyone else, you can still sometimes hear the song of a bird
in the background.
And when I go out for dinner, I am
often confronted with birds flying over the tables. Tourists can be confronted
by this phenomenon on the balcony of their hotel: a swallows' nest that, when
birds are in residence, is at the end of a busy landing strip.
(Old) Greeks think that dogs in the
sea may dirty the water and – as far as I know – dogs still are officially not allowed to swim in the sea. But Greeks
have no problem with birds pooping around their homes or in restaurants. You
see, swallows bring luck and even prosperity when they choose your home,
terrace or balcony to raise their off spring. The Greeks will watch over the
nests, even though that most flying hours, made by the parents to feed their baby’s, go straight over the heads of the
I am not complaining: I think this
birding thing is an entertaining performance and it makes you feel immediately
at ease in the restaurant. I never realized that swallows are trekking birds
and have a special place in Greek culture: not only do they bring fortune, they
also are the announcers of the spring and they all should be back from Africa
on March first. At least, that is the day in Greece that their arrival is
celebrated and when children go around the houses with swallows made out of
paper and sing songs about the spring and about swallows (Chelidonismata).
I am always looking for new forms of
income for the Greeks and that is why I was interested to learn which swallow
nests are eaten in Asia. The artfully crafted nests here are made of mud, small
branches, straw and whatever else keeps the construction together. Somehow, I
could not imagine that these nests could be a new export product. And I was
right, they cannot. In Asia there lives a kind of special swallow that build
its nests only with saliva! I am not sure if I prefer to taste swallow’s saliva or a bit of mud.
Also swallows are divided in
different kind of birds. I did some study but am still confused. What the heck:
if it has a forked tail it just is a swallow! I now will look for a book about
birds on Lesvos that has a clear overview in photographs that makes it easy to
find what bird you just saw. It must be a bird guide for beginners, with clear
explanations about differences within species. Now that the heat has arrived
and the sparrows fall off the roof (a Dutch expression meaning that it is very
hot), it seems to me that it would be helpful to quickly identify which kind of
sparrow you might have to resuscitate.
From experience I know what fun it
gives and how much more easy it is if you speak and understand the local
language. So I intended to learn Greek as fast as I could.
When I had just arrived on Lesvos, a
Greek man came up to me. He seemed to be in a panic; he showered me with a
stream of words and I didn't understand a word of what he said. Even though he
repeated himself at least three times I had not the slightest idea what he
wanted, although it became clear to me that he needed some help. What was the
matter? He did not speak English and so he tried to speak with his hands. He
pointed to the scooter saying “Bloop”. Bloop? “Nai, bloop!” I wondered what he meant with bloop? The man got irritated that I did not
understood him and he took me by the arm to a nearby well and repeated his ‘bloop, bloop’, in the same time pointing to his
scooter. He pointed down the well and motioned as if he was fishing in the
well. And then I finally got it: he had dropped the key of his scooter down the
well and wondered if I had a rope and a magnet. No, I did not have those items.
After this, I intended to quickly
learn Greek and I started with the alphabet. That did not help much, because
then I could decipher a written word, but had not a clue of what it meant. And
I am very lazy when it comes to looking things up. To keep the story short:
after a few months I had not learned much more Greek than the common phrases
that all Greeks exchange each day. When somebody starts speaking Greek to me, I
still do not understand much of it. It's so bad that when a Greek says 'nai' to
me, I keep on thinking it is a negative answer because it seems so much like
all other European no-words: no, non, nein, nee. I still have problems
realizing that 'nai'in Greek
means yes. Greeks have experience with this misunderstanding, they can see the
humour of it and mostly laugh it away. They are not mad at me for not speaking
their language. Most of the Lesvorian people (in the tourist areas) speak English and so we
work out together what we mean. If that fails, there always is sign language.
Greeks have championed the art in
using their head, hands and other body parts. They often use so many movements
to support their words that it may look as if they are engaged in a serious
row. It took some time for me to realize that this was their usual way of
having a discussion. Just like I have only just now learned that when they move
their head down it means a yes and when they throw it backwards it means no.
The gesture for “come here” (ella),can be interpreted as ‘go away’ (only the fingers are moved towards the body)
and when a finger is held in front of the mouth it is not to say that I have to
be silent, but means that they have to tell me something. It is a pity such
movements are not universal because it causes many misunderstandings.
Gestures are cultural and set. And
so they are very stubborn. The movements a police officer has to know in order
to regulate the traffic might be easy to learn, but gestures that support a
conversation or express feelings or thoughts come from the genes. Foreign ones
are not easy to master and your own ones certainly not easy to ignore. You use
them as automatically as you walk. For instance, I keep on sticking my thump up
when I agree with something or I find something cool. This is a gesture you had
better do not do in Greece, because it can be understood as 'fuck you'. And you
do not want to offend a Greek, do you? Even though I know this, my thump keeps
on going up. You’d better control also your forefinger in pointing things out; it is the
same story and it can become a very offending finger for a Greek.
Even though I keep on using crude
gestures, the Lesvorians keep on being polite and nice. The gesture I like most
is a subtle movement of the head that Lesvorian men use to say hello when they
pass in a car or on a scooter. I think it a very sensual gesture and each time
it melts my heart. But automatically I carry on answering with the wrong
gesture in saying hello back: waving my hand with stretched fingers: this is
stupid and so totally wrong! This gesture in Greek means “moutza!'’, best translated as “asshole”!
If I continue with these ‘gesture bloopers’ and I don't learn the language very
quickly, I am afraid that one of these days the Lesvorians will teach me a less
than nice little lesson.
It may be due to
the very late spring that hundreds of snails were wandering in my garden. Even
now, after an unusual summer outburst of rain on the island, you can see them
swarming slowly in all directions. When you pick something up from a dark
corner in the garden, an entire family, trying to survive the dry spell, may be
glued to it.
In one way or
another the garden survived the plague and now it is time to enjoy the sight of
another animal that, in far smaller numbers than snails, roams around the
house: the hedgehog. These creatures are the opposite of a disaster for your
garden: they eat worms, spiders, sometimes snakes and snails; unfortunately,
only the small ones, not the big ones that I suspect can eat an entire rosebush
in one day.
Probably not many
people will associate Greece with hedgehogs. In Greek mythology its name barely
appears. Although Aristotle did remark that this animal mated standing up.
Pliny the Elder also unjustly noted a fact: hedgehogs were fruit thieves!
According to this Roman philosopher they climbed apple trees and vines, shook
the branches and then rolled with their spines in the fallen fruit in order to
transport the fruit on their back to their winter domiciles.
the reputation of the hedgehog was still not really good: they were suspected
of being milk and egg thieves: it was believed that they drank milk straight
from the udder of a cow and stole the eggs from the chickens. Even Shakespeare
never appreciated how clever and helpful hedgehogs could be: he thought that
these spiny creatures were messengers of bad news. Over the centuries in England
hedgehogs were seen as harmful animals and there was a period when there was a
bounty for each killed hedgehog.
But there were
also countries in ancient times that saw hedgehogs as useful. In ancient China,
hedgehogs were even sacred and in ancient Sumeria hedgehogs were a symbol of
the goddess Ishtar (who had the Greek name Astarte), in her guise of Mother
Earth (this goddess had many magic appearances). In Egypt hedgehogs were a
symbol of reincarnation, probably due to their winter hibernation.
The poor hedgehog
has to lug around some eight thousand spines; the clever Romans saw commercial
use in them and used them to teasel wool. They even used the skin to make
reputation of a hedgehog has been cleared: it is a helpmate in the garden and
you can even use him indoors to chase mice and cockroaches (that is, if you are
a sound sleeper, because hedgehogs in the garden constantly grub about in the
earth between swishing dead leaves but inside are also pretty rowdy).
These shambling hedgehogs
with their pointed snouts and little black eyes look so sweet and they have few
natural enemies: most animals have no idea how to tackle those eight thousand
spines. The biggest enemy of a hedgehog is a human being. Not that we know how
to crack their spiny shield, but our cars and reapers in the fields know how.
In earlier times hedgehogs were collected (and I am not referring here to the
hedgehog-witch-hunts in England), in order to cook them. The best known recipe
for hedgehog is to put it in a ball of clay, roast the ball slowly on hot coals
and when the ball is opened, the spines will remain stuck in the clay; the
result being a delicate and tasty piece of meat.
this part is not suited for sensitive animal lovers without a sense of humour!)
the United States, England and Australia animals that get killed on the road
may get eaten. There even are so-called Roadkill restaurants where you may be
served kangaroo, deer, possum, emu and all kinds of other wild animals. I guess
nobody would dare to open such a Roadkill restaurant on Lesvos. Then the menu
could be similar to this satirical menu of a virtual
Roadkill café that I found on the internet.
in a clay ball seems to involve a pretty long wait, so that is not convenient.
Neither could I find mention of Hedgehog spaghetti
carbonara. Although there were plenty of other dishes that
would be suitable for the menu of a Roadkill restaurant on Lesvos, that could
include tortoise, frog, snake, squirrel, fox, dog and cat, the animals that
commonly get killed here on the roads. Missing were locusts – but I guess they
are unlikely to be squished with a car – and smashed snails don't seem
appetising to me because their gunk will be full of tar.
field in front of my house was mowed and in the evening it was remarkably quiet
around the house: no grunting or rustling amongst the leaves on the ground. I
didn't go into the field to look for the humming hedgehog or the hedgehog with
the white belly. I could never eat a torn apart nor an entire hedgehog, for
that matter! I do hope that the hedgehogs simply got such a fright from the
roaring mowing machine that it will just take some days before they reappear
again and come to beg for the remains of the dinner for my spoiled cats.