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Another Year Turning

The holidays are over, the leftovers and sweets have all been eaten, and the tree is packed away for another year. How quickly the holidays come and go? It seems strange that we are in the middle of January already! The last Christmas holiday in Greece is January 6th, which is the Epiphany. On the 7th of January, it is St. John's name day. Though not an official holiday, John is a very popular name here in Ikaria, so there is still much visiting going on, (albeit in very small groups). In our family we have two “Johns” and one “Joanna”, so we tend to celebrate them together. The end of that name day, signals when the real hibernation period begins! What a strange winter it has been so far. The weather has been unseasonably warm. On some days, you can even swim. But, we won't talk about the political situation, the virus or the crisis. That’s enough of that for now. The fact that every new year brings hopes, dreams and new goals is no different for this year, maybe for this year, it’s even more important. 2020 was such a difficult year in so many ways, but the first lockdown actually had some positive aspects, and for me, right now has been a good time to remember some of those positives. In our family, it brought us closer together. Our kids had no choice but to hang out with us, and to be honest, we haven't spent so much time together in years! Back in March, we all thought it was a temporary situation and we would just ride it out as best we could. And now that we are in lockdown again here in Greece, it’s been important to remember these positives, to keep our spirits high and look forward to a bright new year where hopefully we all get to see the virus coming to an end so we can finally get on with our lives. This year quite a few of the regular summer visitors to Ikaria have decided to spend the winter here, and I have heard different viewpoints from them about what lockdown has been like on the island. One that I really like, was someone who described the Ikarians as “a people who in difficult times pull together and recede.” We recede in the sense that we focus on the reality in front of us, while appreciating the difficulty in the world. In other words, we have empathy for what it is happening, but “it affects us without seeming to inflict us.” We keep that well-worn motto of “this too shall pass” close here on the island. Or perhaps it also has something to do with living in a place that seems to be timeless, a place where time truly seems to flow differently. The past, present and future come together seamlessly and softly here. And in the winter, we turn to the time of gathering wild mushrooms, taro root and greens. It is such fun when your table is full of wild foods you have foraged. And of course, some of our wine! My husband is a great forager, I swear he can literally smell where the mushrooms are! He came home a few days ago with mushrooms, wild asparagus, greens and limpets. We had some family visiting so it was a treat. I really should have taken a photo of the table. These are some of the simple joys of winter in Ikaria. May the new year bring only heath and joy to you and yours!

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