J is for … Joy
Joy is a little word with a big effect.
You know it when it visits for the simplest things become profound.
Take the unkempt sheep that wobble on spindly legs loose at the knees.
Their bells shake out a chorus of tinkles and tonkity tonks.
One has a skirt of raggedy wool that fans out and bobs above its tail when it hops over clumps of grass.
They scuttle along the river bank, this flock of about 40 sheep.
Some jump and stretch their necks to latch their jaws on to a moist green leaf.
The others, more sedate, they bury their faces in the forage.
They may stop a while, and lift their heads to look at you, mouths in a sideways chew, a bit of grass hanging from a lip.
The shepherd flops into a sitting crouch.
He simultaneously steadies himself by clamping a knobbly hand around a long staff that’s solid on the soil.
Ah, he says. Kalimera. He nods his head.
These early mornings with the sheep ….
There they are now, on the other side of the village.
They’re hurtling down the mountain, almost rolling down it they’re moving so fast
They can’t wait to get to the water trough and plunge their faces into the liquid.
Vento wags her tail. Your girl, so pretty, her black coat shines mink in the pink of a new day.
The mountains are stoic in their restraint; they don’t flinch when the sky smashes its Eressian blue into their mottled green.
Sam the showman serves smiles and five languages with his food on the platia.
He’s famous, says Anthony from London.
You’re sitting on the pavement outside Elizabeth’s shop, across the cobbles from the Happy Club, where the walruses lodge themselves and their memories, never smiling on the terrace of Kolones.
The sun sears.
You’re telling Anthony about a BBC documentary, Aristotle’s Lagoon.
It shows that Aristotle – in the 4th century BC — spent two years at the Gulf of Kalloni, not far from Eressos, here on the island of Lesvos.
Theophrastus, the progenitor of botany had invited him, old Theo, who like Sappho the Tenth Muse (thank you, Plato), was born in this village.
Aristotle consolidated his classification of animals there, at the teeming gulf.
And a bust of the genius philosopher scientist will be unveiled at 8pm in the Kalloni harbour on August 6.
Like the documentary, the event will draw attention to Aristotle’s pioneering role in science and the contemporary threat of pollution and overfishing in the gulf.
This history goes so far back.
A car swishes by, almost shearing our toenails.
The Americans think history begins with the Wild West, he says, that Jesse James is their Aristotle!
Anthony and Thelma burn tarmac during their island rendezvous.
They’re out every day exploring but they love coming back to Sam’s.
Lebanese-Greek, that’s Sam.
Yes, says Anthony. A Leek!
You eat there too, when you can bear to tear yourself from your office, Kafene, and this week you taste Revani at Sam’s, for the first time.
You’re with Mr G-Spot. He’s got his lips in an O and he’s looking worried because the oven-baked lamb is HOT. That’ll teach him. He couldn’t wait to fill his mouth with flesh after his meditation at Osho Afroz.
As for you, you’re enjoying your tzatsiki and tabbouleh (piously) – one would swear you were the sanyasa!
It’s de rigueur in Greece that a complementary dessert follows your meal.
You learnt this when madame pointed it out to you on the banks of Aristotle’s lagoon, no less.
In this instance, it’s the revani.
Mr G pats his stomach, then slides his Greek semolina cake with orange syrup across the table to you.
Something sweet, and a friend!
You have a lot of it this week.
Nabakov’s Lolita – your favourite book — on TV in English, you find the library on the way to your new house, there’s the Sappho show on Monday night, a delicious swim ….
You laugh with the Denizens of Debonair, and slap your thigh with the Gallivanting Brits.
You settle into your own place that has, wait for it, a doorbell and a big sunny kitchen.
Vento has her own little cottage and you make plans to go shopping.
Joy. Joy. Joy.
It’s the song in your heart, it’s the light in your eyes.
It’s everything. It’s now.
J is for … Joy