It’s SO, so Quiet!

Well, that’s it! The summer season in Skiathos is finally, officially, over for another year. It ended as the last charter plane, carrying the  few remaining tourists took off into the clear blue sky this afternoon. Most businesses that hadn’t already closed, rolled down their shutters and stacked their chairs for the last time last night. Many islanders have already departed for their well-earned rest and once again, peace and tranquility reigns.

I haven’t quite finished my work here – I have just two more mornings of teaching to go but already I’ve been able to steal away each afternoon, high up into the hills to try to catch the late autumnal light and long shadows and paint undisturbed with only birdsong for company. With the forecast that from Tuesday the weather will change, I wanted to make the most of what remains of this glorious Indian summer we’ve been enjoying – everything looks particularly beautiful right now; the hillsides are covered in heather and the leaves are turning from glowing gold to rust. It’s been impossible to capture the beauty and serenity of the island at this time of year and to do it full justice but, well, here’s my latest attempt anyway:

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With only one week or so to go before I too will head for home and there’s much to keep me busy, battening down the hatches, till then. I was told today that the abundance of berries on my pyracantha bushes is a sure sign of a harsh winter ahead.

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Every five or six years or so Skiathos gets covered in a deep blanket of snow….perhaps another one is due though it’s hard to imagine right now, bathed as we are in glorious sunshine and as the grapes still hang heavy on the vine:

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Roses are still in full bloom:

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and even in the olive grove, fresh new grass shoots and the first spring flowers have already begun pushing up though the earth:

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We rarely suffer from frost here and I heard somewhere that snow is good for the garden…so I hope everything will survive and flourish again next year. What is unlikely to survive a really heavy snowfall is the old tiled roof on the ancient stone Kalivi:

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Come to think about it, even the art studio roof looks unlikely to weather another winter –  even a mild one, so there will be some hoisting up of temporary support beams to complete before the week’s out too!

Then there’s the packing. I always intend to travel light (one day I WILL manage with just a passport and a toothbrush!) but my wonderfully generous Skiathite friends have been dropping by all week with all kinds of  autumnal offerings;  homemade fig jams, walnut liqueurs, cakes, quince preserves, pickles, raisins in syrup, soft cheeses  etc- all of which will be a real treat to share and sample around Christmas time! Next year I hope to add Greek Cooking to the growing list of workshops on offer and once I have my own kitchen garden planted up next spring, I’ll be eager to learn how to make all these myself!

But spring is still a fair way off and I’m eager to return to my family and my city life…. and take things easy for a bit – although with a new commission lined up; another large wall mural for a London restaurant, I won’t be putting my feet up just yet! But on a cold, dark winter’s night, when Skiathos seems a million miles away I’ll look at this picture my student, Maria, painted today:

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and start looking forward to another season…and my return to, in the words of my dear friend Kostas:  my ‘little corner of heaven on earth’……..

I’ll leave you with the beautiful words from another of Richard Buchanan Dunlop’s fine poems: ‘Aegean Autumn’

“The short warm days that touch the paling sea

Are sleepy now in autumn’s gentle lights

They do not touch the place where summer sleeps

But lap the verges of the long drawn nights


The mists of morning cloud the distant hills

On islands peeping from the greying sea

Where in the shadows of the dew damp ground

Cicadas now have ceased their symphony


And in autumn all the flowers reawake

To glory in the softness of the day

Arbutus bushes drip down nature’s blood

Whilst all of summer falls into decay


The swallows muster in their multifold

Harbingers of the falling of the leaves

They like the tourists fly to other homes

Their nests now empty in the shadowed eaves


The beaches that were filled with noisy life

Now lie in silence waiting for the spring

The clockwork of the summer’s music box

Is now unwound is now a dormant thing


The gods are now at home they’ve had their fun

Their garlands hang on some Olympan door

They sip their sips of wine they dream their dreams

No longer do they fight they have no war


The splendour of the autumn passes on

the golden days draw ever further in

The tides of life fall on an empty shore

Wiping the debried slate of nature clean


Oh winsome days that smile upon us all

That wash the dust of summer from the land

The pride of the Aegean the golden fall

Now strokes the soul of nature with its hand”


6 thoughts on “It’s SO, so Quiet!

  1. Your work is extremely inspirational, I found a great lift looking at them. You have beautiful area of natural beauty and so close to the ocean. Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing more of your paintings in the near future maybe.

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  2. Hi Yvonne

    What a lovely post. It must be very special on those days – kind of sad because the buzz is gone, and at the same time relief for the same reason!

    Can’t wait to see you when you’re back in London. I hope there will be time for it.

    Antje

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  3. Hi Yvonne,i loved your description of autumn on Skiathos,it gave me goose bumps and brought a tear to my eyes.It must be lovely to be there when the tourists have gone.

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