This place used to be a swamp. My grandfather used to complain that humans were not meant to survive here, only cows. Mosquitoes were feasting every summer and with them, malaria was taking its toll on young and old alike. Or so my father says, I never saw malaria, although I’ve seen plenty of mosquitoes. After the war they dried up the swamp and since then, we got the plain as we know it today. So no malaria and definitely not that many mosquitoes either, but I still have my doubts regarding the suitability of the climate for humans. Nevertheless, it is what it is and the plain is the place I call “home”.
On the west in immediate proximity, the mountains; on the east the sea, far away. In the middle crops in the summer, grass in the winter, some animals, a few enormous rocks with monasteries built on top, three midsized towns, two smaller towns and many villages, their inhabitants entangled in a love and hate relationship with the plain and with each other. I suppose it is like this in other corners of the world as well (minus the enormous rocks with the monasteries).
Do you ever get the feeling that in some places time slows down? Well the plain is one of those places. Sometimes when I go back there, I have the impression that the plain stands outside time. Certainly, some new buildings or roads pop up over the years, but the spirit of the place is exactly the same. The town centers change faster, like all of the town centers in the world do, but get out of their perimeter and time stops. For those of us that move around a lot and haven’t managed to put roots anywhere else, it is a kind of comfort I guess, to be able to go back and magically step into our childhood.
Not only time, great events also fail to strongly impact or to leave a lasting impression on life on the plain. Step on the plain and you not only step outside time, you step outside space as well. Watch the news while being in the capital and you feel part of it, immersed in it. Watch the news while being on the plain and they don’t concern you. Even the most important news are dismissed with a shake of the head, the inevitable “Those idiots are really screwing things up this time!”, and then life goes on, same as always. Developments are discussed and commented upon, but their impact is only skin deep.
I took this photo because I was drawn by the spiderwebs glowing in the afternoon sun. In it you also see my father in action at our local “golf driving range”. In action, not driving the ball but gathering salad for the dinner table. Pigweed I think it was, or chicory. The ball landed in a particularly rich spot and my father thought it would be a shame to leave this treasure just lying there. So down went the driver, out came the little knife and the plastic bag and by the time I had finished photographing, our evening salad was secure in the bag. To those of you that are now already jumping into conclusions, imagining golf clubs, driving ranges, resorts and spas I have only one word: wow! Non of that exists there, just the plain. Plenty of space to hunt, fish, gather salad, grow crops and drive the occasional golf ball, as long as you are prepared to go find it after you drive it. If you are lucky, the ball may even land on a patch of fresh pigweed, something you definitely don’t get on a normal golf court.
So this is then the plain, a place to go back to, a place to unwind, the place I belong to. I suppose, I could have written this post 20 years ago, or 20 years from now, and it wouldn’t be that different. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
© 2015 Epameinondas Stamos