Arriving in Skiathos in mid February, I felt I’d caught the tail end of winter. Although apparently, it been a relatively mild one with only one or two really fierce wind and rain storms (and none of the heavy snows that Skiathos can experience) there was still a distinct chill in the air, the days were short and the nights were bitterly cold. The air, still thick with the pungent smell of woodsmoke, the island was completely still and incredibly peaceful. But It wasn’t long before I felt Spring was on its way. I awoke one morning to find that suddenly the island had sprung to life. The dormant meadows and olive groves had suddenly become carpeteted in spring flowers; seas of delicate lilac anemones everywhere! These were soon followed by banks of tall graceful asphodels, marguerites and wild and flag irises and still later, when the fields of bright red poppies appeared, and the swifts began their arial ballets , darting in and out of the koukounaries pines and twittering their bird-song in the Koumara bushes, I knew that Spring had indeed arrived. Up in the hills, the mists were receding to reveal the mauve Judas trees and lime-green euphorbias bursting into bloom. I think It really is my favourite time of year on the island. Not only because of the breath-taking beauty that is all around but that first rush of excitement, after the long sleep of winter, before the island really springs into action to make ready for the first influx of tourists, at Easter, is truly a wonder to behold.
The air suddenly becomes filled with the other sounds of Spring; countless strimmers and chain-saws buzzing in the valleys, cement mixers churning away in the distance, over-size lorries begin dashing all over the place, maneuvering up mule tracks to deliver their loads of sand and cement. Hammering and banging as yet more construction and renovation begins.
Skiathos town sheds its sleepy village winter persona and, seemingly overnight turns into a busy hive of activity as shop-keepers, returning from the mainland, open-up their stores, and set to sprucing-up, re-stocking their wares and make ready for a new season. Huge ferries begin to arrive in the port and empty their holds, depositing vast trucks and countless cars, laden with everything from supermarket supplies to building materials, onto the crowded quay-sides. Cafe’s open and soon fill up, brighly-coloured awnings appear, taverna chairs & tables are set out and the empty old port begins to fill up with the fishing caiques again, all brightly and newly painted after spending their winter shored-up in the boatyards.
Yes, a new season has definitely arrived and the annual circus begins…..