Background: one of the most characteristic features of the sanctuary: what was once possibly a sacrificial altar, cozy underneath its protective cover. A definite winner in every tour of the site, it attracts the attention of visitors of all ages, especially children, who often reproduce it in drawings of the site. Certainly not due to its appearace: a squat rectangle of stone slabs, covered by an inglorious makeshift tin roof. Or perhaps precisely because of the mystery hidden underneath the protective cover that hides as much as it protects. Or, finally, because of the attachment of this magic word: altar (vomos in Greek), which awakes some sort of pertified life in this material relic of the past.

On the foreground, one more way of keeping time in the sanctuary. The poppies at bloom, sometime in early May. They are preceded by some sort of yellow flower, resembling the buttercup, but reaching waist level. Then, in autumn, it’s the turn of the cyclamens. People refer to the epochs of the sanctuary, by asking me: are the poppies out yet, or: the cyclamens will be out any time now. Flowers, I feel sometimes, are equally important as ruins, perhaps more. The October before last, we found a bunch of picked cyclamens neatly placed upon a flat stone of the temple perivolos. A personal offering, we thought. Or perhaps absent-mindedness of the picker. Or merely time that went by without fulfilment.

One Response to “shelter”

  1. Nomed Says:

    When I was 6, the summer before starting school, grandfather bought me a typewriter. It was a scorching August afternoon and we sat underneath the ancient walnut tree –its leaves giving off a hypnotic, bitter smell. The table was too tall –I had to kneel on my chair. Leaning on my elbows half asleep I observed; my eyes on the machine, then on him. He was muttering to himself. Something about breathing marks. “But, dad, they were abolished three years ago! How come you don’t remember?” mother would ask him later. I’d already learned how to read and write, but typing was a whole new thrill. Grandfather dictated the words, I punched them in with aching fingers, they appeared on the paper. Tah-dah! All round and perfect –although often misspelled beyond recognition. The first words: January, February, March…; words that would soon change the way I perceived and measured time; words whose use would make me a grownup. Was that my rite of passage? …While I was busy counting down to Christmas, Easter or the Summer holidays in the proper, grownup way, my little brother continued to measure time old school: Cyclamens meant his birthday was not far and got him all excited for his presents; Chrysanthemums that mine were getting closer; Anemones and Poppies that Easter was round the corner (the blood of Christ in the fields, aunt D would say and we’d exchange “she’s nuts” looks); the scent of Angelicas in the warm night announcing the arrival of the summer with its Honeysuckles and Jasmines… I remember feeling an affectionate superiority: Soon the time would come for him to forget his backward ways…

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