January 31, 2012

COUNTDOWN TO BLISS

Agia Efimia, Kefalonia
Agia Efimia, Kefalonia

Scrolling through the last dozen or so posts, it dawned on me that I've let myself be carried away by winter's devious charm. Way too many photos of snow and white-horse seas - for my disposition, that is.
It is almost as if my least favorite season embarked on a campaign to turn me into a fan. It almost worked too! Almost.....
On this last day of January, of freezing temperatures under perfectly blue skies, I'm calling its bluff by beginning the countdown to the Queen of Seasons: SPRING!
And since I've found myself humming tunes lately...

"Just remember in the Winter,
Far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed that with the sun's love,
In the Spring
Becomes the Rose"


("The Rose", Bette Midler)



January 27, 2012

IN THE COMPANY OF PERFECT STRANGERS

Makris Gialos Beach, Kefalonia in October
Makris Gialos Beach, Kefalonia (in late October)
There's an unspoken understanding and a silent solidarity between people who frequent some of my favorite places on the island. For the most part, communication is carried out by glances, smiles, nods and gestures. Faces become familiar after a while and there's an inherent understanding and respect for that space that each of us is allotted for fulfilling the purpose of his visit.
A fisherman, a woman walking her dog, a couple waiting for the sunset, a jogger, an amateur photographer... each with their own agenda. Once in a while, after some familiarity is established, the nods and gestures are accompanied by a few very substantial words and suggestions: "...over those rocks you'll get a better view of the seagulls" - "if you really want to capture some big waves, you should come in the morning" or the inevitable question: "....do you ever publish these photos, is anyone interested in seeing winter images?"
I have learned so much from my "comrades in solitude." A fisherman gave me a condensed course in understanding weather so I can always choose the right place and time for perfect clouds and colorful seas. An English couple tipped me off as to the purple skies that I would have missed at Ammes Beach, had I left right after sundown. A jogger at Makris Gialos made a slight detour to leave some footprints so that my photo (above) would be less bland. Without a word, just a bow and a smile before he returned to his original path.
Thinking about this the other day, I found myself humming some lyrics from an old tune. One I haven't even heard for years but so appropriate for the situation as it really describes what all us strangers do in smiling, nodding, and gesturing to each other in places of solitude... Yes,indeed,
We fill out the missing colors 
In each other's paint-by-number dreams...*
(from Jackson Browne's "The Pretender", paraphrased a bit)

SEAGOING FELINES


Would they pose for me otherwise?The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia

Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
Avythos Beach, Kefalonia

Avythos Beach: more than place, it's a state of being. Strangely enough, it is not my favorite beach for swimming though it is absolutely gorgeous in the summer. The swimmer in me seems to have bonded over the years with the pebbles in Skala. That aside, Avythos is my favorite year round escape; it is  so incredibly dependable. Now that is a strange word to use in describing a place that is different every time, but let me explain.
It is dependable in that it will never disappoint you: be it with crashing or gentle waves; in sunshine or storm; flawless sand or the occasional pebbles; with a spotless ceiling or overcast skies. And, of course, on days when the northwestern wind rules, Avythos becomes a huge canvas for the "god among winds" to have a field day painting it in all shades of blue. Blue in tiers and strips, in blotches and swirls. 
Offshore, Dias Islet serves as a pivot point around which colors and shapes are formed.
But the most dependable and adorable given on Avythos are the cats that actually live there year round. They are well fed by beach regulars and are very extroverted. They'll nudge and cajole, in the most imaginative ways, till they turn you into a regular meal provider. I know because I've become a subscriber to their charm!


The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia
The cats of Avythos Beach, Kefalonia


January 25, 2012

BRIDGING THE DISTANCE

Seagull watching, Kefalonia
The mainland as seen from southeastern Kefalonia
When skies take on pale, powder blue and gray shades, they do so with a purpose. Only then do the outlines of the mainland take on definite shape and form. Hazy blobs in the horizon pop out for what they really are: snow covered mountains, rugged islets, and rock formations acting as "pit stops" for seagulls. Some are closer than others but there is no use in trying to map out "what is what" and attach names to them, though each one does have a unique name.
seagulls, KefaloniaOn a clear skies, true blue day you probably could because - strangely enough - there is less to see. Then, only the largest and well recognized islands and islets are visible. It's only on less vivid, subtle and muted days that the more obscure formations come into focus, blotting out the big picture and forcing you to concentrate on details. Like the flight path of seagulls that bridges the distance between here and there. Or, the relevance of distance itself when it comes to drifting over the sea.
Seagull watching, Kefalonia
A pit stop for seagulls along the southeastern coast of Kefalonia

January 23, 2012

OUR HONORED GUEST, Mr. ROY G. BIV!

Rainbow over Kefalonia
Rainbow over Kokkylia, Kefalonia
Few natural phenomena are so universally admired as rainbows. Those unbelievable arches of color tinted light, filling up the sky after a rainfall, are the material legends and fairy tales are made of. Hope, optimism, good tidings, and luck are just some of the words frequently attached to any description of rainbows.
Of course, the conditions prerequisite for the formation of rainbows are better left to be explained by those more scientifically inclined than yours truly. (Something to do with the interaction of light, raindrops and sun rays, but physics was never my strong suit).
There are seven spectacular colors, distinctly visible to the human eye, and they appear in a specific order (reversed on the top rainbow, if there are two).
Remembering the order of the colors is easy thanks to an ingenious mnemonic device. All you have to do is remember the name of a most respectable gentleman: Roy G. Biv. (RedOrangeYellow Green BlueIndigoViolet). Rumor has it that his permanent residence is ...over the rainbow and, though he is of undeclared profession, I'd say that he is eternally committed to carrying that pot of gold from one side of his residence to the other with such speed as to confuse the seekers - and thus perpetuate the search!

Rainbow over Kefalonia

Rainbow over Kefalonia

Rainbow over St. George's Fortress, Kefalonia
Rainbow over St. George's Fortress, Kefalonia




January 21, 2012

SHIFTING POSITIONS

If I ran a poll on which part of the day people find most attractive, there's no doubt that the results would come back with a predictable answer: "but the sunset, of course."
That being said, I will not run such a poll, at least not before I attempt to persuade you that the crown jewel of the day is the Almighty Sunrise!

Sunrise seen from Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Sunrise viewed from Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Sunrise seen from Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
Sunrise reflected on the sea of Lourdas Bay, Kefalonia

I stood upon the hills, when heaven's wide arch
Was glorious with the sun's returning march,
And woods were brightened, and soft gales
Went forth to kiss the sun-clad vales.
The clouds were far beneath me; bathed in light,
They gathered mid-way round the wooded height,
And, in their fading glory, shone
Like hosts in battle overthrown.

 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
"Sunrise on the Hills" 
Note: this campaign of persuasion has just begun...

January 19, 2012

A SENSELESS TRAGEDY

Costa Fortuna sailing past Poros, Kefalonia
CS Costa Fortuna sailing by Kefalonia
Having spent countless hours over the past 3 years at the Argostoli cruise liner pier, the Costa Concordia accident at Giglio Island has caused me extraordinary sadness. Those hours upon hours of looking at those floating palaces glide in and out of the bay, marveling at the diverse groups of people coming off the boats, made me feel as if the tragedy of the Tuscany coast was a lot closer to home than it actually was. Surmounting this feeling is the reality that the Concordia has a couple of sister vessels, operated by the same company, which either dock here or bypass the island at incredibly short distances to the shore.

It is amazing how a super cruise liner's state-of-the art equipment could not avert a collision with an otherwise insignificant rock formation. You'd think that the waters along these cruise routes would be fully charted. On the other hand, should this accident prove to be the result of poor human judgement, what is the sense of all the technology if a skipper can override warning systems?
Reading all the news reports on the accident, I could not but think of all the happy faces coming off the boats, eager to explore, to discover, or simply to bask in the warm sunshine. I even wondered if any passengers of the ill-fated Concordia have been on one of the cruise ships making a port call to Argostoli.
Such a senseless tragedy...
Costa Fortuna sailing by Kefaloniaa southeastern coast
Costa Fortuna sailing past Poros, Kefalonia
The Costa Concordia's sister vessel, the Costa Fortuna, is a frequent guest in our waters as it sails past Skala and Poros once a week in the summer on it's return journey from the eastern Mediterranean.

See also previous post on cruise ships:
AND WATCH 'EM ROLL AWAY AGAIN

January 15, 2012

FOREGROUNDS AND BACKGROUNDS

Chapel over Trapezaki Beach, Kefalonia
The chapel over Trapezaki Beach, Kefalonia
A small, unassuming chapel perched on the hill overlooking a popular beach, hidden from the world by the encompassing pine grove. A modest bell tower without the impressive architectural elements that so many bell towers on the island do have. And to top all this modesty, a snow covered mountain-protagonist as backdrop. Does the foreground stand a chance? On a clear and crisp January day anything is possible.
Personally, I think the rusting bells - aided by the blue sky - are giving Mt. Aenos a run for the money!

January 13, 2012

ANTICIPATED BLUE WITH A YELLOW TWIST

Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia
View of Mt. Aenos from Lourdas Beach, Kefalonia
As the snow had all but melted under the harsh January sun, crisp but enticing days were sure to follow. So, a leisurely Sunday drive was clearly indicated.  No game plan, no planned routes, no itinerary to adhere to. With abrupt stops at crossroads and impulsive decisions as to which road to take.



Kefalonia winter colors
Winter colors at Lourdas and Trapezaki, Kefalonia
Yellow Wagtail at Trapezaki, Kefalonia
Yellow Wagtail at Trapezaki, Kefalonia

Nice, but predictable. Until I decided to explore on foot the ravine behind the beach at Trapezaki and there she was, standing out amidst all that green and blue. I'm certainly not a bird expert, to the extent that I can only tell a chicken from a vulture apart, but she left no doubt as to her genus: a bird with this strut of the tail can only be a YELLOW WAGTAIL!
Wagging her way across the puddles formed by running waters on the uneven turf, she seemed to take extreme pleasure in knowing that her reflection was equally spectacular. Yes, beauty comes with attachments: vanity and self confidence!

(unfortunately, the 2nd camera with the  longlens attached, was without memory card, so I had to capture her with a short zoom lens, lest she decide to fly away while I was trying to change cards)





January 12, 2012

GRAZIE MILLE!



Seagulls at Limenia Beach, Poros Kefalonia
Limenia - Poros, Kefalonia
A sincere thank you to the new friends of this blog in ITALY. It was a genuine surprise, in reviewing the recent visitor statistics, to see that you went into the trouble of using the google translator to read the entire blog. I have no way of knowing if the translation is good, or what you are looking for. Regretfully, my knowledge of Italian is next to zero and thus I don't know how to say "hang around" in your language. But, I hope that you do! GRAZIE!!!
And since I'm on the subject of blog visitors, a big, big thank you to the loyal friends of this blog in SLOVENIA. I truly appreciate it!

January 11, 2012

ARCHIVED MOMENTS AND MEMORIES

From time to time I run into some long forgotten photos, in a mislabeled file folder of my hard disk, that bring a big smile to my face. Not because they are good images but because they are associated with extraordinary moments, people, or situations. Such are the two photos below. Let me explain...

Fishermen at Spartia,Kefalonia
Preparing the nets @Spartia, Kefalonia

The image above was snapped with a small digital pocket camera in January 2006.
An extraordinary period for Kefalonia, by any definition. We had a severe - and unprecedented - snowstorm that knocked out power lines, causing a 3 day total blackout! Needless to say, there was not much to do in the house with no electricity, running water, telephone, or internet service. The only battery still working was that of the car and the pocket Canon. So, I found myself wandering to the village of Spartia where I could at least bask in the crisp, bright sunshine. The fishermen on the small quay of Klimatsias Beach were going about their business - so I too went on with mine!
(A couple of years later, this photo was used by the former Municipality of Livatho as a poster, breaking ground since it was the first time that a winter photo of the island was used in promotional material.)


Fishing boat at Paliouras, Kefalonia
Cajoling for the day's meal @Paliouras Bay, Kefalonia
I had followed this fishing boat from Antisamos Beach to the smaller bay of Paliouras, on the outskirts of Sami. Walking along the edge of the road above the bay, I was snapping away as the seagulls circled the boat in a ritual manner, trying to convince the fishermen to part with a portion of their catch and dedicate it to a good cause! As the huge mast to the left came into view, I almost tripped over the edge in a futile effort to see the vessel it belonged to. I will never forget how silly I felt a year later when, while crossing this bay by boat, I discovered that the mast is actually part of the architecture of a villa overlooking the beach!

January 8, 2012

FULL MOON ARISING

full moon arising over Kefalonia
Full moon over Mt. Aenos, Kefalonia - St. George's Fortress in the foreground

It is one of those moments when silence is clearly indicated...

January 6, 2012

IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ADJECTIVES

Poros,Kefalonia
Cloudy sky @Poros, Kefalonia
The adjective is a fascinating part of speech: a descriptive word used to "qualify" the dull nature of nouns. It is usually efficient in sentence formation and completeness, though not always effective.
What do I mean?
Take, for example, the adjective in the phrase "a cloudy sky." It is efficient in qualifying the sky as having clouds. But, how effective is that qualification in terms of actually visualizing the sky? Would you go out of your way to view a cloudy sky? Would you enjoy it if you did? Well, it all depends... Take a chance. After all, it may even help your syntax as you'll learn to use more effective, double adjective sentences.

Poros,Kefalonia
A storm gathering @Poros, Kefalonia

Crisp clouds, Kefalonia
After the storm @Poros, Kefalonia
Poros,Kefalonia
Poros, Kefalonia
Poros,Kefalonia
Vessels of varying sizes but equal significance - Poros, Kefalonia




January 3, 2012

AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

to keep me away from...
Platis Gialos, Kefalonia in winter
Platis Gialos, Kefalonia
Snow covered Mt. Aenos was majestic. Those bonding snowflakes were certainly a delightful reprise. BUT, one must eventually return "home."  Back to the place where zillions of sand grains bond with a purpose. Sometimes their aim is to withstand the battering of the angry sea, others to provide the canvas for lazy waves to turn into shapes and whispers...
View to Vardiani Islet, Kefalonia
Vardiani Islet as seen from Platis Gialos, Kefalonia