Takis’ memories of evenings past‘Ah, I remember it so well, the meals, the swims, the discussions on the terrace every evening while we sipped coffee, Greek coffee of course!’
The Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam, number 215
Don’t seek to recall yesterday that is past
Nor repine for tomorrow which has not yet come;
Don’t build your hopes on the past or the future.
Be happy now and don’t live on wind.
Before our visitors depart we usually find time to go for at least a couple of evening visits with them to the port, or to one of the seafront tavernas. An evening visit to the port, the limani, is an activity beloved by all Lemnians. After eight in the evening the tavernas begin to fill, and while the parents sit and chat their children play with each other in the plaza. If you are early you might be able to watch fishermen packing up for the day, or perhaps you might catch a visiting organ grinder who has just stepped off a ferry. It’s a good way to unwind after a busy day.
When driving there Takis might be still stressed by the obstacles he’s encountered during the day, however though he might shout at locals driving without giving signs, or yell at young men roaring past on their motorbikes, after taking a seat, watching the crowds wandering around the seafront, and eating a plate of loukoumades (honey balls) sprinkled with walnuts, he’ll mellow.
from The Path to the Sea Thomas A. Clark
'in the half-light of dusk
after the day has prepared
hard surfaces for inspection
before the night has plunged
things back into themselves
there is a settlement in which
the external and the internal are
continuous with the evening air
if you are alone at the edge
of shadows you are not alone
the hours of light shine in you
with a compacted energy that
also burns in tree and stone
partly revealed and partly veiled'
One the evening we heard music coming from the terrace of the house next door. It was our neighbour Nicholas playing his balalaika, accompanying his wife who was singing some of the old Greek ballads. We all went around to their house and sat under umbrellas on their terrace, with glasses of cold water and cookies, looking out onto their small garden. They like us, and like many Athenian Greeks, come to the island for four to five months each summer, living the rest of the year in Athens. And like many overseas educated Greeks of their age, this couple could speak a little English and even better French.
Another evening Panayiotis and his wife invited us to supper at their house. They’d also invited two other neigbours, and all of us sat down to ouzo, dips and chatter. The conversation was in Greek, but as Takis held the floor most of the night, and I already knew his stories by heart, it wasn’t difficult for me to follow most what was being shared. Harri would ask him about the Mavrellis family and the room would fall silent as he filled them in on some of the old family stories or the recent shenanigans we had been experiencing while trying to buy the shares from various members. Then Takis would turn to me and say,
‘I must tell them the story of....’
And when someone else told a story Takis would translate some of it for me. But generally I found myself watching body language, to catch the inflexion of what was being talked about, and I enjoyed observing this aspect of their interaction as much as taking part.
Now and then Takis lapsed into English, as the others could understand a little, and at one point he told them that he was amazed he was actually doing this project.
‘Me, the least of all my cousins, here to save the last crumbling remnants of the Mavrellis fortune!’
Dreams in the Dusk, by Carl Sandburg
'Dreams in the dusk Only dreams closing the day And with the day’s close going back To the gray things, the dark things, The far, deep things of dreamland. Dreams, only dreams in the dusk, Only the old remembered pictures Of lost days when the day’s loss Wrote in tears the heart’s loss. Tears and loss and broken dreams May find your heart at dusk.'