MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “nature”

The dried-up creek

k-rawson

©Karen Rawson

It was an autumn morning without a cloud in the sky. It had been days since they had raised their gaze to so much blue. Today they were celebrating. It didn’t really matter what; there is always something to rejoice each day. So they decided to do something different. Life is only worth it if you take risks and believe you can succeed.

After what seemed like endless turns, they reached a forgotten stairwell that led to the remnants of a creek. It was muddy and dull.

This used to be a park. It was where I first saw you”.

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

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A Platanus of history

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©MCD

There is a quote that says, “imagine if trees gave free WiFi; we’d all be planting like crazy. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe”.

Trees are more important and vital for our lives than we believe or even give them credit for. They contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. They produce the wood we use to light our fireplaces in the winter, make our furniture, even the paper we write on. Yet, we cut them down without second thoughts.

It is no wonder then, that when we come across a tree that is centuries old we treat it as a wonder of nature. We stand before it dumbfounded, gazing at this stupendous sight. And it makes you truly feel small and insignificant.

There is a place in North Evia, Greece, somewhere along that nature-blazing road that has you driving among trees, on your way towards the Kyreas River, in between the villages of Prokopi and Mantoudi. There is this place where a sign will direct you to the “Great Platanus”. A plane tree that residents will tell you has been there for centuries. It is “a tree of huge dimensions”, as the sign reads, a “monument of nature”. A Platanus Orientalis. It is 22-23 metres tall, with its trunk’s circumference reaching 18 metres, its trunk diameter at 5.5 metres, the surface of its stem at 900 square metres, and its shadow said to be once stretching over 2.5 acres. Its age is estimated at 500-600 years, although some say that it exceeds 2,300 years! It is said that this is the most ancient Platanus in the Balkans, perhaps even the whole of Europe.

20171028_133927Its tree trunks are larger than what can fit in your wide-open arms. It stands imposing before you and, even though lacking in foliage and somewhat deserted and with broken branches, the vastness of this tree is not diminished. Rather, it is a refreshing site in a world full of asbestos and tar. There is also a huge hollow in its trunk, big enough for 10 or more people standing. In it, you suddenly forget all the problems that trouble your head daily. You take a deep breath and simply be grateful for being alive. For being there. And for being able to witness this. Just think about all the changes this tree may have witnessed. It was there before you and will probably remain so even after you.

20171028_133932As with all over-aged creatures, there are myths and legends surrounding this tree. For example, it is said that if someone falls asleep in its hollow, they will fall ill or harm will come to them, as goblins will come out and cast a spell on them. In another legend, if you are found at midnight under the tree, you will hear voices, music, violins and clarinets, and see fairies and goblins appear dancing at the shores of the river. In yet another, it is said that at midnight two large rams come out of the platanus and start noisily fighting each other. This tree is often associated with fairies and goblins as it was believed that, being over-aged, it was also haunted.

No matter the stories, however, the reality remains that this, like so many others, is part of our natural heritage and should be protected and preserved. We devote so much of our time, energy and funds to things that matter less, yet we abandon those that benefit us more.

N.B. All photos are mine, taken in North Evia, Greece, on 28 October 2017.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Gratitude

 

Growing green

https://wallpaperscraft.com/image/river_jungle_moss_stones_vegetation_green_45577_1680x1050.jpgAri grew up in the jungle. His parents were wildlife biologists who spent most of their lives researching out on the field. So Ari really had no choice. He was born and bred in nature itself. That is why he was given a name that means “brave”. He was brought up to live up to it.

He was different to his peers, because he had learnt this other kind of life. He had grown up in an abundance of green. He knew how to appreciate the clean air, the comfort, and the healthy nutrients the forest provided, but at the same time, found out how to manage the bugs, the danger, and all the imminent risks that were around every branch.

Ari found his life to be fascinating. He didn’t need the technology and gadgets children of the same age had become so obsessed with. And he certainly did not require prompts of the “go green” style, because he had already gone there. Sure, at times it was not easy. It actually was very difficult, especially during the winter seasons when the storms came. But in Spring, everything suddenly lit up and the entire scenery bloomed in colour. It was a spectacle that somehow made everything else seem futile. Because as all the shades of light arrived and the day grew longer, life seemed happier, more carefree and much more enjoyable. It was when the young cubs would come out to play and Ari spent his entire time awake running around the forest floor or swinging from the tree branches.

Even though he grew up away from civilization, Ari did not feel lacking in anything. On the contrary, he felt complete. His friends were creatures who demonstrated exactly what they felt, and most of all were able to provide unconditional love, knowing when to appear to offer comfort and when to disappear to provide space. No matter what others thought, life in the jungle was somehow less complicated. Ari wouldn’t change it for anything. Because it taught him values that civilization has forgotten, if not lost.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Green

Selfish Shellfish Selfies

ShellfieGo into a café. Look around. How many people do you see who are really conversing? Who are actually talking and listening to each other? Look at their hand gestures, their body movement, their eye contact. Any? Now, count how many people you see instead being distracted by a digital device. Too many to count, huh?

It’s amazing how the first thing we have come to notice when entering a café, a bar, a restaurant, is whether they have free Wi-Fi or not. As if that is the criterion of whether their food will be healthy or tasty, or even edible. Because of course, we then have to check-in, post on every social media account we have, that we are at that specific place. And then, we have that irresistible need – that feels like an itch that must be scratched – to take selfies of everything, as if that is what will prove our existence.

We have become such narcissists and so self-centred that when someone asks us what we do, we hesitate for a while, and our thoughts run to the last thing we posted or read online in order to find an interesting conversation starter. How many hours of the day do we spend sunk in a screen, reading. As though we are shellfish retreating in their hard exterior, waiting for the moment a pearl will emerge. Reading about the news, about other people’s status updates, about pretty much everything. Because we need to be informed about everything. And then we also need to have an opinion about everything too. And we obviously need to post it to demonstrate that we are opinionated and follow the current trends.

But just consider for a moment, what happens during a power cut? We sit in silence not knowing what to do. And if we still have charged phones, we might take a selfie and save it for later, to post as soon as power is back – #blackout #nowwhat #awkward.

Is this what we want to be remembered as? The generation hashtag? We are so busy trying to prove that we are active digitally that we don’t really do much in reality. What is the point of going for a hike or for a cross-country train ride, when you keep posting updates of your location? How are you exactly enjoying being in nature away from the digital insanity? Sure, take pictures, but save them for later. Then you can comprehensively recap your experience and tell others how worthwhile it was to escape for a while. Prompt yourself and others to step away from the screen.

Because, honestly, is this all we have to show for ourselves? That we are selfish shellfish taking selfies?

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me

Also part of Daily Post: 21st Century Citizen

A snowy escape

Five-Snow-AngelsNickie was excited. She had spent all week waiting for the weekend because that is when it would take place. A road trip to the mountains! But when Saturday came, she woke up to a cloudy sky with the sun losing at hide and seek. She was despaired, fearing that the trip would be cancelled especially as it suddenly began pouring with rain, accompanied with loud thunder and flashing lightning. She dreaded when the phone rang. She picked it up, while her heartbeats increased to a hundred. “Hey girl, don’t forget to put your boots on and dress warmly! I’ll be there in ten minutes!” That was it! It was still on. Nickie pulled on a warm fuzzy sweater, grabbed her woolen cap and mittens and rushed to the door.

Akira pulled up in ten minutes. Jennie and Edmond were already in the back seat with a huge smile on their face. They were all enthusiastic, despite the rain that was coming down harder now. Akira was a keen driver though and they all felt safe with him behind the wheel.

The town seemed grey and gloomy. There was hardly anyone walking around, not even driving for that matter. People preferred to stay indoors rather than give in to the howling winds outside. It was as if a blanket of depression had fallen over the city, transmitting that very feeling to those underneath it. That is why Nickie was so happy when they were now passing through a forest. The green of the leaves that had not fallen conveyed a sense of freedom. There was tranquility found in the forest, one so different to any other emotion felt anywhere else. It was so peaceful. It almost felt as if this acted as a shield to the hailstorm from which they had just escaped. The rain was significantly less here, and Akira could finally slow down the windscreen wipers, which so far were frantically jumping up and down.

But the magic really began when they reached the mountain. The winding climb up was not Nickie’s favourite. It always made her stomach turn, so every driver she was with knew well to slow down and be particularly careful. The first signs of what awaited for them at the top appeared from the white dots that appeared on the green leaves of the wild plants growing at the side of the road. Slowly the white glimpses overtook the green and the road itself began to be covered by snow. Snow!! Nickie felt the adrenaline rushing through her veins. As soon as the mountain peak appeared and she saw the entire slopes and valley covered with in snow, she placed her cap on, flaps covering her ears. Jennie and Edmond laughed but they too put on their mittens. As soon as Akira parked and said OK, they all ran out, like a herd finally gaining their freedom.

Nickie ran to the middle of a snow-covered plane and fell onto the snow. She loved this feeling, of a fluffy white blanket onto your back, while staring at the cloudy sky above and the snowflakes falling from the trees. She had always seen actors in movies doing this and she finally got to do it too – a snow angel! She felt so liberated, so carefree, so alive!

The four of them spent an entire day up in the mountains playing with snow, to the point where they didn’t want to leave. Akira had a surprise lined up though – they would stay at the mountain cottage tonight a bit further down, so they would have one extra day to play in the snow. Before they left, Nickie and Jennie began building a snowman. Akira and Edmond at first laughed, but soon began filling up the snowman’s belly. He was a cute one. They even placed two big stones for eyes, a twig for a nose and a lien of pebbles for a smile. He even had two larger twigs for hands. It was almost as if he winked and waved as they headed to the car, satisfied at a day away from worries and troubles. As if the snow had lightened up their gloomy moods. “This escape was so necessary”, they all agreed as they made their way to the cabin.

Find your melons here

Farmers-Markets-1-640x425On a sunny Saturday morning, most people would like to sleep in – well a little later than usual that is – and maybe pass the rest of the day calmly, relax and have fun. I would know. I like to sleep in on weekends. But recently I have discovered something different for a Saturday morning. A place where you get fun, excitement, humor, puns, fresh food, smells of all sorts, and a lot of pushing and shoving. Something like a merry-go round only cheaper. And you get food out of it.

Farmers’ markets have been around for centuries. Producers get up even before the break of dawn to set up stalls with their fresh produce, ready to advertise that “they have the best [enter product here], yes it is true!”. They are markets that exist worldwide and reflect their local culture and economy. And (I never thought I would say this) but you can actually learn and observe a lot by visiting one.

For starters, even if you made an effort to get out of bed at 10am on a Saturday in order to go and purchase (cheap) fresh fruit at the market, the farmer who encourages you to taste before you buy, has been there since at least 5am and for him 10am is as good as noon.

You have so many stalls and products to choose from. The prices are evidently much much lower than at a commercial market, and the products are markedly better. Producers even cut open fruit and vegetables to demonstrate their freshness and ripeness. And you can actually smell that natural scent that unprocessed food is supposed to have.

Then if you visit such a market a couple of times, you realize that each producer has their own post. And they remember you. They might (eventually) even give you lower prices, since you’ve become a “frequent flyer”.

But the best part of the market, is observing the people there. The originality in the yelling that goes on to advertise the produce – “I’ve got the best melons, yes I do. Good for me!”; “You won’t believe the cherries I’m selling today”; “I’m practically giving my pears away”; “Hey lady, where are you going? You won’t see oranges like these elsewhere!”; “Sir, how about these fresh from the ground potatoes?”.

Then you see all these (mostly older) people pulling their market cart along and selecting the best produce with which to fill it up with. And they stop in the middle of the really narrow makeshift corridors, forcing the one behind who was abstractly glancing at the prices of the stall on the left to bump into them, and causing a pile-up of shoppers and trolleys, stepping on a few feet in the meantime. And the pushing and shoving is not something fun either.

But at the end of the day, you get fresh produce that ensure a healthy lifestyle plus you’ve had your dose of human socialization and reactions for the week!

It also shatters the delusions that farmers are folk of the lesser kind who simply grow crop and then try to sell them. From what it seems, they are the ones closer to nature, who still have a job, and who know how to appreciate the goods of life. So next time you see a farmers’ market, take a stroll over, you might even learn something while getting a taste of real food.

Call me Rain

rain windowThe rain started pouring down heavily now. As if the skies suddenly opened and a bucket of water was swung out forcefully. The only sound that could be heard in the room was that pit pat the drops made as they smacked the freshly cleaned windows and trickled down leaving a curvy life-line path behind them. “Why does it always rain when I clean the windows?” thought Miranda, as she sat on the window-side pouf listening to the rain.

She loved sitting inside when it rained. There was something magical about being engulfed in the warmth of your home when outside the gods of wind and rain were lashing out their wrath against nature and mankind.

But above all, she loved the melancholy that came with the dark rainy days. It was a period that made you think. That made you reminisce on your life and consider what you are doing, where you are going. The ‘what could have beens’, the ‘what still can be’, the ‘what ifs’. And it all spread inside an emotion of sweet gloom. One that caused tears to well up in her eyes.

Watching the rain coming down outside and gathering up in piles all the dirt off the roads and sidewalk, Miranda was also filled with hope. That the rain will pass, as will the bad times in her life. That her soul will be cleansed and she will come out stronger. Just as the clouds will pass, so the good times will return.

A doleful smile formed on her face as she let herself fall asleep wrapped up in a fleece blanket, to the lullaby of the gentle tapping of the rain…

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