Thursday, 22 September 2005


Slowly slowly Lesvos glides into the autumn. The thermometer stays below 30°C, sometimes we have rumbling clouds, a pissed off shower or some drizzling rain and for sure in the evenings it is time for a light jacket. Juicy green grass stems appear everywhere, the yellow crocus-like sternbergias come up very hesitatingly, as well as the purple cyclamen. That all means that it is time for walking.

This enchanting island is full of walking paths. We now go where we can find walnuts, blackberries and rose-hips. And that is nearly everywhere. I do not know why but I suddenly really long for the good old rose-hip marmalade. It is not definite that we will manage to produce a pot of it, because the rose-hips on the island are far smaller than they are in Holland. It is probably going to take a long time to pick them and cut them and prepare them for a marmalade.

Our latest walks go straight through the old village of Chalika (old Leptimnos), among heavy fig trees, we pass fat blue berries and still wonder about the gorgeous bunches of grapes floating high in the trees. We climb towards a country road that seems to go all the way to Vigla, the highest peak of Lepetimnos as well as the highest point of the island. A stiff climb that we still did not manage to bring to an end because the road is climbing and turning and climbing and turning and then we have to go back. I love to do walks but my condition is not that good that I will survive walks of more than two hours of just climbing up and up. On the way back my knees and calves are crying and I wish I were a hedgehog who can roll itself up into a ball and just roll down the mountain. So making these kinds of walks is hell for me. But we are just at the beginning of the walking season. Who knows, maybe one day I will reach the top of Lepetimnos...

The scenery on this walk however is one big party of stately views over the blue sea and Turkey, besides unbelievable thick and old plane trees which are bent over starting waterfalls, elegant chestnut trees full of light green prickling fruit, rampant ferns, music trees (flowering ivy that climb into the trees and give place to thousands of humming bees) and some trees we still have to identify. Like the one which is losing its rose red fruit at the moment. The fruit is smaller than prunes, bigger than cherries and nowhere in our modest collection of botanic books to be find.

The 'Chrysanthemum' tree, which I called it when I first saw one, we finally defined what it is. It is an oak tree which has soft yellow chrysanthemum-like flowers. Which actually is its' fruit bed from where an enormous acorn will emerge. That is the holly oak. I never knew that there were that many species of oaks.

For example you also have the 'Christmas oak'. This is a jolly fellow with shiny red and yellow balls, but he is pretty dangerous. Those Christmas ball look-alikes are gall apples or nests for the gall wasp. It seems that every oak can become a Christmas Oak because the gall wasp does not care if he is delivering his little ones in a holly oak, a cork oak or an American oak, although he seems to prefer the summer oak.

So, you meet some animals as well on the way (however the little wasps are hidden safe and sound in their Christmas balls). Besides birds the small game you meet on the island consists mainly of light- footed squirrels who hop and skip away when they spot you.

Maybe to compensate for those rare small game animals last week we got a special show from two tortoises. Thanks to the still hot weather they performed in a peepshow. To gather the public the small male with his shield rammed the bigger female and then took his position on her behind. He started miauling and sang his song. That he really gave everything he had you could see as his tongue hung far out of his mouth. And the further it went the more he had to gasp. Anyhow, my ears got red from hearing them. The peep of the show was difficult to see. I suppose that the male has a sting-like member that he has to put under the shield of the female. And what is there to be seen, I'm afraid, will always be kept hidden under the skirts of the mother.

Copyright © Smitaki 2005

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