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Thursday, 9 November 2017

«Ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή»

1943 - 'So was it when my life began'

In my childhood, lines were planted by their case officers – teachers, parents – introduced as suitable friends, even mentors to be trusted, but in truth, secret agents, sleepers to be activated far in my future.
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.  
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
I knew these words, enjoyed and cherished them as companions and close neighbours; recalled them every day in mused fragments. I listened to Eliot's dry monotones on a 78 record in English class at school. These were trusted lines; taken for granted even. I wrote English essays on Wordsworth's maxim - extracted - 'The Child is father of the Man. Discuss'
My age stretches my recollection of times past into what younger people think of as history, but instead of studying history like them, as something taught - a subject detached - I am history, an inhabitant of times before theirs.
Only now have those sleeping lines come out - replete with meaning; truly here;  tumbling over themselves to fulfil their creators' spells.
2017 - 'So be it when I shall grow old'

 'The same road that leads upwards, leads downwards' Heraclitus. The road between upper and lower Korakiana from our balcony, after 2 days of heavy rain - the first on beloved Corfu since May

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Papa Kosta has died. Αντίο παπα-Κώστα Φαϊτά

Priest blessing a child 1981 a marble relief by Aristeidis Metallinos, sculptor of Ano Korakiana
Single tolls of church bells these last two days have sounded in the village, from postern gate to postern gate across Ano Korakiana. Father Kostas, village priest, died in Ioannina Hospital on Tuesday. He had been ill with leukemia, but we saw him often in Democracy Street, until perhaps just the last fortnight.  His funeral service will start in Agios Georgios tomorrow - Friday at 9.30. From 3.00pm there will be a procession - with his coffin - to Agios Athanasios, where he will be buried.
Αντίο παπα-Κώστα 25.10.17 (from the village website by Thanassis Spingos)
Αντίο στον παπα-Κώστα Φαϊτά. Στον ιερέα και άνθρωπο που πέραν του Λειτουργήματός του, έδινε αδιάλειπτα το παρόν επί τρεις και πλέον δεκαετίες σε όλες τις πτυχές της συλλογικής καθημερινότητας της κοινωνίας του χωριού μας και όχι μόνο.

Goodbye to Papa-Kosta Fyta. To the priest and man who, beyond his function, has been constantly present for more than three decades in all aspects of the collective everyday life of our village society and beyond. (my trans.
*** ***
Friday 27th Oct 2017. All Lin and I did was to follow his coffin from Ag Georgios this afternoon, a mile and a half, over an hour an half, with a hundred and more before us, walking to a crowded church...amid the trees and meadows below the village under a gentle blue sky with a sweet breeze bearing the scent of autumn bonfires. 
Kostas Apergis' - Κώστας Απέργης - delivered a eulogy for Papa Kostas at the church of St. Athanasios, below Ano Korakiana, as our village priest was buried this late afternoon....(I will try to translate his words later, but my abilities to capture Apergis' eloquent farewell, to a good and simple man, fail me.)
"Οι τον σταυρόν, ως ζυγόν αράμενοι..."Γράφει ο/η Κώστας Απέργης   27.10.17«Οι τον σταυρόν, ως ζυγόν αράμενοι...δεύτε απολαύετε,  ά  ητοίμασα υμίν βραβεία»
Πάνε 32 χρόνια απ΄ όταν στον Αη Θανάση, μοιραζόμαστε τη χαρά της εισόδου σου στο ιερατικό στάδιο φωνάζοντας <<άξιος>>...Σήμερα, βουβοί, στον ίδιο χώρο σε αποχαιρετάμε!Τότε ήσουν νέος, σχεδόν παιδί. Μόλις είχες εκπληρώσει την εντολή του δημιουργού, την αναφερόμενη  στο βιολογικό προορισμό του ανθρώπου «αυξάνεσθε και πληθύνεσθε» και είχες φτιάξει την οικογένειά σου.Και ευθύς σήκωσες το βαρύ σταυρό της ιεροσύνης, αναλαμβάνοντας τη διακονία της εκκλησίας της  Κορακιάνας.Δύσκολο το χριστεπώνυμο πλήρωμα αυτού του χωριού... Εσύ όμως ανταποκρίθηκες με τον καλύτερο τρόπο στις υποχρεώσεις σου.Πάντα κοντά στον άνθρωπο, χωρίς ξεχώρισμα. Πλούσιοι, φτωχοί, νέοι, γέροι, άρρωστοι, ανήμποροι κάθε λογής.Σε όλους ήσουν δίπλα, σε όλους παραστεκόσουν. Στο ναό, αλλά και στην κουζίνα, στο καφενείο, στην πλατεία,  έδινες παραμυθία πνευματική και υλική...«Ξέρει ο παππάς!», σε ακούγαμε να λες, όταν συνάνθρωποί μας έρχονταν σε ανάγκη και χρειάζονταν  βοήθεια...Κατά τις ιερές ακολουθίες ελάμπρυνες με το ιερατικό σου ήθος και την καλλικέλαδη φωνή σου τις τελετές, υπέβαλες τους πιστούς και δημιουργούσες μια μυσταγωγική ή δοξαστική ατμόσφαιρα.Πιστός και ταπεινός λευίτης, σύμφωνος με τον όρκο σου, ακολουθούσες πάντα το «πείθεσθε τοις ηγουμένοις υμών», ακόμη και όταν οι ηγούμενοι έδιναν εντολές αντίθετες  με τους θείους και ανθρώπινους νόμους...Και τότε σήκωνες διπλό το σταυρό, φόρτωνες τις ενοχές στον εαυτό σου και ζητούσες συγχώρηση σαν να ήσουν εσύ ο φταίχτης. Ήταν φανερός ο σπαραγμός σου!Σήμερα σε αποχαιρετάμε. Φεύγεις σε νέα ηλικία. Πολλά μπορούσες ακόμη να προσφέρεις, αλλά, άλλα  βουλήθηκε «ο ζωής κυριεύων και του θανάτου».Ας είναι ελαφρό το χώμα που θα σε σκεπάσει!Εμείς, συντετριμμένοι, σε προβοδίζουμε προς την «Ουράνια Πόλη» φωνάζοντας ξανά «ΑΞΙΟΣ»!!!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A walk

From our house...
There’s a walk that goes westward from our house in the centre of Ano Korakiana Άνω Κορακιάνα – an area called Αρκούδενα - the Bear, (no-one's told us the origin of the name), 250 metres along Democracy Street, to a Y-junction. Here’s a corner provision store, burned down and restored over two years ago; a place to gather, offering space for vehicles to edge by one another, or park. You can continue left, round a blind corner, and wind downhill 2 kilometres to the Sidari Road, or take the right turn that heads steeply into Μουργάδες, Mourgades - a word that translates as ‘the dregs’.
Coming out of Mourgades - strolling west

There were many olive presses here. One remains inside a finely proportioned house at the end of the neighbourhood; a corner angled to allow the passing road. A busy foreigner's supposed to have spent much money restoring the building, including the old press inside an airy atrium. Local agents - not Greek - took up his dream with confident promises of professional help with the project, telling him they'd obtain permissions for all alterations. This they did not do, leaving changes made by builders at the mercy of local planning inspections. Work was delayed, then stopped for failing to conform to the local vernacular. With plausible assurances the absent owner's helpers withdrew, leaving the property more incomplete than when it was merely neglected.
'Pressing the olives' - marble relief by Aristeidis Metallinos of Ano Korakiana (with permission)

After the heavy rolling stones of the olive press had cold-crushed the oil from the olives, as with wine from grapes or cider from apples, the miller was left with the olives' skin and bones ... ‘postain’ ‘potage’ (what’s the word?). Pomace! From pomace came the distinctive aroma that once permeated the maze of paths in Mourgades.
An image of olive pomace - 'the dregs' - downloaded from the internet

Perhaps the area should be called Ελαιολάδες or Eλαιοπυρήνα. I think of Mourgades, with its many recently improved houses, as the posh end of the village. It even has traffic lights, to avoid a jam between cars that venture through from either end. A notice cautions that the road narrows to 1.8 metres. Here, up an alley, even narrower, are two derelict houses, beside them turfed-out broken furniture, blackened kitchenware, a chamber pot, a retired cooker, rotting carpets, a German army diesel canister brimming with clear rain water, stamped with the date of my birth – 1942.
 On the other side of Mourgades the road heads west past a few outskirt homes, an allotment and chicken run, through olive groves and boulders that, long ago, must have tumbled from the crags above the village, now muffled and decorated by saplings, shrubs, moss and grass, rooted in their crevices. The road, like its two siblings, runs two kilometres to the same main road between Corfu and Sidari in the north. It’s recently been repaired to 'passable' – the rain washed grooves on one steep corner filled in and rolled smooth. All along here our eyes have the sudden delight of sunlight piercing the foliage, dividing into myriad beams, brightening small flying insects like dust motes, dappling the ground between the olive trees – back-lit into the distance.

A children’s book wood, or, closer to dusk, a dazzling exposure over the tree tops. Momentarily blinding.

A long-lost friend of Lin's once remarked, when walking here at dusk.
"I'm out of my comfort zone"
The road winds down and down

On the level ground there are pastures, vineyards with rusty fences set in low concrete walls. A winter brook winds across our route - a ditch, still dry in this long stretch of sunny October weather. Clear of the woods, we see the mountains above Ano Korakiana, and, in the distance, a few roofs and walls, the village tucked into the hillside a mile away. We’ve walked this circuit often.
“There’s the gateway where we stopped for a snack when Amy and the children and Liz were here” That was three years ago.
Level ground below the crags
A few more bends on an even road, then up a rise to meet the main road. Trucks and coaches rush by. We walk just a few yards along its verge to the quiet road that leads back to Democracy Street.
Coming up to the church of Agios Nikolaus at the edge of the village

Ano Korakiana 1975 Angelos Kontis, Άγγελου Κόντη. Posted by Thanassis Spingos on the village website 

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