December 27, 2011

SNOWFLAKE BONDING


Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
I recall reading a quote some years ago that really made an impression on me. It went on about how a snowflake is the most fragile thing in nature but what a wonder it is when so many of them stick together. Such a simple but powerful truth. Something so perishable making a lasting impression when in good company!

It makes you stand back and think of all the tiny, seemingly insignificant, things that come together to compose other objects that are altogether larger in size, scope, and significance.
Something along the line  of "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

So, we've had our trillion fragile snowflakes stick together on Mt. Aenos over the last few days. And the result was breathtaking! - in more ways than one ;-)

(We made our way to Aenos National Park only to find that we were not alone. A white Christmas in Kefalonia is not always a given, so this was a special occasion. And though cars were not allowed to go past the Park gate due to icing on the road, those who wandered in on foot were rewarded by the picture perfect setting.)


Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Aenos National Park, Kefalonia
Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
A holly oak tree feeling the load of bonding snowflakes
Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
The road within Aenos National Park
Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Xi Beach, Kefalonia as seen from Mt. Aenos
Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Snow covered "abies cephalonica"

Snow on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia

I don't believe in plastering my picture on my posts, but allow me to make an exception, if only to prove my case to non-believers. Given my well known aversion to freezing temperatures - and winter in general - I've already had questions about whom I "borrowed" the photos from!
Yes, I actually went to face my nemesis. And between us, I'll admit that I enjoyed it as much as everyone else did. 
However, my long term relationship with winter has not been affected despite this small truce. I still have no particular affection for the most wicked of seasons.

December 26, 2011

TWAS THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS



Winter sky, Kefalonia
View from Kefalonia to the Peloponnese
Few days are as clear, crisp, and colorful as those "blessed" by a northern wind. Every tiny detail comes into sharp focus and the muted winter horizon becomes clearly defined. Neighboring islands, conveniently blurred by the seasonal mist, come out of hiding. On days like these, part of mainland Peloponnese pops up and is easily  mistaken as the northern part of Zakynthos (Zante), our island neighbor to the south.
Quick changing cloud formations provide interesting backgrounds for otherwise depressing, bare trees. The sun's rays peek and pierce through grey clouds and reach the sea surface as bright strobe lights.
Yes, all looks picture perfect, but is it?
Yes, there is a catch to this scenario.
The same northern winds that paint the sky and sea so artistically, do not arrive without baggage. Their load is white, fluffy, and cold.
If you turn around and look at Mt. Aenos, the backbone of Kefalonia, you can see it "unpacking".
Then you know that it is going to be a white Christmas.
And, it was!

(to be continued)

Winter colors, Kefalonia
A crisp winter day in Kefalonia
It's snowing on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
It's snowing on Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia

December 18, 2011

SLATE SKIES AND FOAMY SEAS

Storm at Trapezaki, Kefalonia
Stormy Seas at Trapezaki, Kefalonia
It doesn't happen too often, but it does...
Writer's Block...
Fortunately, I can always rely on the Master to bail me out...


Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

"Blow, Blow,Thou Winter Wind" by William Shakespeare

Winter sunset in Kefalonia
Trapezaki, Kefalonia
Winter sunset at Lourdas Bay, Kefalonia
Lourdas Bay, Kefalonia

December 15, 2011

LAGGING WINTER

Winter colors of Kefalonia
Winter Scenes, Kefalonia




Winter colors of Kefalonia
The colors of autumn spilling into winter @Kefalonia
It should be obvious by now that I'm partial to spring and summer as opposed to autumn and winter. In color palette jargon, I'd be a "blue-white-green person," as opposed to an "orange-gold-grey person." 
However, the last few years have been messing up with this color scheme seasonality. Summer lingers on for quite a while longer, making me more accepting to autumn. Autumn seems to have totally lost its sense of being, lingering into the holiday season, making me a bit more indulgent to the calendar's indication. These long transitions are absolutely fabulous and make bearable those gray, rainy days that inadvertently interpose themselves in between the fabulous sunshine and unusually warm temperatures. Under these conditions, I can venture as far as enjoying a cloudy day or two, or even appreciate the orange,yellow and gold hues around me.
As long as this game of seasons does not spill into spring!!!
Winter colors of Kefalonia
Moody Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Winter colors of Kefalonia
Fruit's on, leaves off!
Winter colors of Kefalonia
Pomegranate tree at Kambitsata, Kefalonia
Winter colors of Kefalonia
Perky daisies growing among fallen leaves
Winter colors of Kefalonia
Lotus tree @Kambitsata, Kefalonia
Winter colors of Kefalonia
Colorful contrasts even on a dull grey day
Winter colors of Kefalonia
The last of the olives waiting to be picked

December 7, 2011

BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME

Spasmata, Kefalonia
Spasmata, Kefalonia
Fishing near White Rocks, Kefalonia
Fishing near White Rocks, Kefalonia
It's a game of endurance and persistence. One I usually lose, but without regrets or grudges. The location provides ample opportunity for capturing one of those shots that you pat yourself on the back for.
The rocky outcrop on the left is home to dozens of seagulls, nesting their young, flying to and from overhead in interesting formations, and doing all sorts of acrobatics. The white rocks on the right provide a stark background for fishermen either casting or pulling in their nets. Straight ahead are the cloud formations over the peninsula of Paliki, indicative of the weather's general intentions for the next few days. A few yards to the back is the end of the airport runway, with no surprises this time of year. Dispersed throughout the small bay are a number of fishing boats, some farther out, one or two to the right towards the white rocks. You'd think that it would be a matter of minutes before I'd get that desired shot...

Well, it isn't that simple...
I can vouch for this, here on this small bay are the most uncooperative seagulls and fishermen on the entire island! The birds seem to take off from their rocky haven only when I'm distracted doing some stupid task like changing lenses or shifting position to avoid numbness. The fisherman seems to intentionally let the boat drift sideways to a most inconvenient position. Is it possible that man and birds may be in cahoots?? Yes, a conspiracy is clearly indicated.
On this particular day, my "catch" was menial. Of course, when the dampness of the day began to overwhelm my bones and I just had to leave, it happened. He started to pull the net in, and a cloud of seagulls flocked over the boat to claim their share of the loot.
But I was already in the car, no sense turning back...
Maybe next time...

November 30, 2011

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE


Agios Sostis harbor at Pessada, Kefalonia
Pessada harbor, Kefalonia

Since it is impossible to avoid reality all of the time, I've made a pact with myself. Monday through Friday I'll worry about the problems of the Euro zone, the banking system's junk bond portfolio mess, the potential euro collapse, the price of gasoline, etc, etc, etc. But when the weekend rolls around, I'll do a complete reset.
Armed with the usual gear plus lots of unfounded and reckless - but essential - optimism, I drive along known roads and tracks, stopping randomly at  familiar spots. The weather- so far -  has been my best ally and most reliable accomplice. Tiny escapes, instrumental in building the necessary stamina for the Mon-Fri stretch.

Soak up enough sunshine and you too can put all your ducks in a row!


Agios Sostis Harbor at Pessada, Kefalonia
Pessada, Kefalonia

Pessada, KefaloniaPessada, Kefalonia

Pessada, Kefalonia
Pessada, Kefalonia
Spasmata Beach, Kefalonia
Spasmata Beach, Kefalonia
Minies, Kefalonia
Minies, Kefalonia
Agia Pelagia, Kefalonia
Agia Pelagia Anchorage, Kefalonia

November 24, 2011

SOLAR TUG-O-WAR

Sunset over Argostoli, kefalonia
The sunset over Argostoli, Kefalonia

On opposite sides of the bay, each town does its best to perpetuate the legendary rivalry. And if Argostoli seems to have a tangible advantage - being the capital and all - Lixouri has the absolute last word each and every day of the year. The sun certainly does drench the capital with golden light as it goes down, but it is over Lixouri that it lingers and shows off before calling it a day. It's the "western advantage."

Kefalonia sunset over Lixouri
The sunset over Lixouri, Kefalonia

November 20, 2011

THE OLIVE SAGA - PART II


Here it is, with a bit of delay I admit.
The process used at this particular olive processing plant is not really that traditional since the entire extraction process is centrifugal and totally automated. The grindstones are not hand carved and the paste goes through a crush process before moving to the basin. Very machine oriented... I had no idea that they had installed new equipment.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed.
My family owned and operated a traditional olive press since 1905, or thereabouts. I remember the old grindstones, the goat-hair folds, the manual press, the separation of the oil from other olive juices and pomace in the in-ground "olive pools." That was a labor intensive process - the press was manual and required 5-6 men to turn. The plant stopped operating years ago.
Nowadays,  olive processing uses the centrifugal method but maintains some of the traditional elements such as grindstones and fiber discs. With olive oil season just beginning, I will be in search of these more traditional plants and will try to capture this process. Stay tuned!

November 16, 2011

WE STRUCK OIL!

Olive Press Millstones at Faraklata, Kefalonia
The Olive Merry-go-Round!
New olive oil, Kefalonia

Stay tuned for the full story...
THE OLIVE SAGA Part II coming soon...

November 14, 2011

THE OLIVE SAGA - PART I



A clear, warm, sunny November day at an olive grove by the sea...
Harvesting the island's most precious crop...
Among friends, from here and afar...
Hard work in great company...
Great fun in hard times...
Nature's way...

November 6, 2011

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS IN TURBULENT TIMES

Sunset at Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
November sunset at Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
There are no two ways about it. The "Greek Crisis" lurks on everyone's mind, both in the country and abroad.
Sheltered as we are here on the island - mainly due to the distance from Athens - it nevertheless weighs on our minds and daily life.
It isn't within the realm of this blog to analyze the situation or offer an opinion on the turmoil that Greece is currently going through. Of course we feel the strain. Yes, it is depressing. Sure, there is uncertainty - fear even - in thinking about the future.
But we truly are so much luckier than people in the rest of the country. At least, I feel that way. Blessed with so much beauty around me, I never fail to find a spot of total serenity, a place where I can let my worries dissolve like the gentle wave that breaks into soft white foam on the beach. Even if it's only for an instant.

Going back to basics, to the land, to reconnecting with friends, to reestablishing social bonds, to participating in traditional activities, is all part of the plan to get from here to there in troubled times. Who knows, maybe we will come out of this stronger, friendlier, healthier, and, happier in having discovered the substance of things and having reordered our priorities. I'm reserved but optimistic.


Note: Spent the last two days with friends at an olive grove (it's olive picking season). There was more genuine laughter, camaraderie and all around good fun than I've experienced in years. In coming posts, I'll share my little endeavors in the quest of bliss amidst troubled times.)

November 4, 2011

INDULGENT NOVEMBER

November sunshine, Kefalonia
Maistrato Marina at Argostoli, Kefalonia

November sunshine, Kefalonia
Maistrato Beach, Kefalonia
If there's a month with a definite mission, that month is November, and the mission is to prepare us for the wickedness of winter. But this November has assumed duty without seeming particularly eager to fulfill its job description.
Crispy mornings and chilly evenings have certainly arrived, but with tons of sunshine and warm days between the two.
Grey struggles with blue, resulting in interesting powder blue skies with a few puffs of light grey clouds.
The sea is all too eager to act as a huge reflector of the subtle hues.
I suspect that if I were to make my way to the Lighthouse, I'd see dozens of locals swimming in the shallow waters of Argostoli Bay. (A bit extreme for me, but I always enjoy looking at them behind my rolled up car window!)
Yes, November is on duty, but indulgently so....


November 3, 2011

SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS...

Xenopoulo, Kefalonia
Xenopoulo, Kefalonia

It was the most unexpected and yet thrilling thing.
This blog was mentioned on EasyJet Holidays' blog as one of the Top 10 travel blogs for October.
There are quite a number of things that I could write about this distinction, but I think it is best to keep it short and to the point.
To all readers who have honored me with their visits, reposts and comments, a heartfelt THANK YOU!

To the editors of EasyJet Holidays, I dedicate this photo with my sincere wishes that their days are blessed and filled with the bright light, blue skies, and vivid colors of an October day in Kefalonia.
THANK YOU!

note: as of 2015, the link below may no longer be available

http://holidayblog.easyjet.com/top-10-travel-blogs-in-october/



October 27, 2011

REDEFINING FALL


Omala Valley, Kefalonia
Omala Valley, Kefalonia
Autumn has a way of creeping up on you and breaking down your natural resistance to the inevitable invasion of winter. It not only bridges seasons, but emotions as well. Its crisp colors compensate for the falling and missing leaves, and its clear skies enable shapes, structures and reflections to become dominant in the landscape. 
Much like redefining time and space....



Omala Valley, Kefalonia
St. Gerassimos bell tower at Omala, Kefalonia
Omala valley, Kefalonia
Omala Valley, Kefalonia

Omala valley, Kefalonia
Omala Valley, Kefalonia

October 21, 2011

WINDING DOWN THE SEASON

cruise ship, Argostoli Kefalonia
Cruise Ship "Armonia" docked in Argostoli, Kefalonia
Only a few more arrivals till mid November...
Cruise season is coming to an end...
Though an October cruise in the Mediterranean is a hit or miss situation
due to weather instability, Wednesday's passengers were luckier than most...
Bright sunshine, clear skies, perfect temperatures...
Only three days after that horrid storm...
October is such a fraud!
Cruise ship at Argostoli, Kefalonia
CS Armonia at Argostoli, Kefalonia