YOU wake to find your heart floating next to you, light and free.
You walk with Vento, who heads to the long grass at the start of the path on the way to the sheep shed.
She stalls, and sniffs the air.
Then you see the sheep, drinking at the water trough.
She’s very sensitive, is your Vento, attuned to your every move. And everything.
She reminds you of your Rosie-girl, your beautiful cross-breed of indeterminate heritage.
Much like Vento, who is a hunting dog, says Madame X. And purses her lips.
You can’t argue with that!
Rosie-girl died when you were looking after your dad, on his death bed.
So you never had a chance to say goodbye, to hold her when her beloved head sagged to one side, still forever.
Shame. Poor Miss H, in Joburg, South Africa, she had to call the vet, and drag her lifeless body from the house.
It was a portent. You were absent from your father’s death bed, and his funeral.
Sometimes the soul shrinks. And there is nothing you can do.
Sometimes you curl in on yourself, to shield yourself from scarring, from being torn to shreds.
Feelings can claw the life from you.
You have to do this, from time to time, for living’s sake. For love. Of yourself.
There is no merit in turning yourself into a dart board; the target of things that stab.
Never mind. That’s the past. Goodbye pain, hello Eressos, Lesbos, Greece.
You walk into the veld here this week, past Madame’s sea rock, into the side of mountain on the other end of the back of the village.
Fennel, oregano, other herbs and plants you can use for tea and cooking, it all grows profusely along the side of the road.
The day before, you and Madame X go on a road trip.
It is the best day. A long day, together.
There is no blog about it because The Day of the Dancing Cloud has become a template for a story.
Madame, in the way she does, prompts ideas and this one, the route she takes, and the things she tells you, and shows you, they trigger a recognition that it’s time to write about something other than the characters of Eressos.
But never fear, dear reader, there are characters in this story too!
It will take some work, of course, to get this right: facts and poetic writing, but you’ll give it a go.
You look forward to it, for you are on a big learning curve, in more ways than one.
It will be good to get down to basics, to specifics. Seriaaaas mixed with levity.
In the meantime, she arranges to get a housekeeper for you. Pronto.
Gott! It looks like a bomb’s hit this place, she says.
Madame warns that you have to tidy up before the housekeeper arrives, tomorrow, Friday.
You don’t want people talking, she says.
Last night you intend to see what’s going on at the Tourism Board’s function: Painting the Turtle Bridge.
But you don’t get there, even though the Queen Bee organised it; Miss QB who’s lived here all her life.
She knows everything there is to know about everything, and everybody.
Miss QB and her Sappho Travel (Sappho everything, actually) the yearly September celebration of all things Sapphic, the Sappho Women International Eressos Women’s Festival. She rules the roost, she and her business partner, Miss Crew Cut.
Anyway, you land up at Vento again, Vicky and Lena’s place, where you found your dog or rather, the dog found you.
Yummy. Salad and ah, moussaka.
It’s mama’s moussaka you say, kissing your fingers in a bunch on your lips.
Yes, I’m your mama, says Vicky, who cooked it.
She’s smiling from behind the counter. You notice her soft eyes, for the first time.
The till jingles. The tourists are coming.
Today, you’re at Portakali, in Eressos, again. You’re here just about every day.
Arti, your Arti … from the Kouitou Hotel.
She walks in and tells you about the South Africans who have been staying there.
There’s this link, she says, Greece and South Africa.
The English women you met on the beach the other day walk in to Portakali, for old time’s sake.
Let’s call them Belle and Elle, for their names do chime.
They hold your dog while you write. You introduce them to Alexandra (the Great). They laugh.
We used to live here too, the say, and take over Vento’s lead.
Now they are talking to Miss T, the Miss T who tells you, while you’re sitting outside her house drinking coffee and smoking roll-ups yesterday, what you can do with the herbs you’ve picked from the side of the road.
You buy a chicken across the way from Portakali.
You make hand signs so the butcher. You want a flattie, as we call them in South Africa.
Yes, a spatchcock chicken.
Next door you get some charcoal.
You’re cooking tonight. A good old braai. For Miss Muscles’ farewell.
The meat must marinate, and you’ve got washing to hang up. No dirty linen, so far!