Sunday, June 25, 2017

Greece ~ When the Cicadas Sing. . .

We can’t leave until the cicadas sing, I announced several weeks ago.

For some reason those little insect mariachi bands hadn’t heralded summer’s arrival as early as they did last spring. And that was reason enough in my mind to stick around until they did. (And it didn't take much to convince The Scout that more time here was in order. . .even singing cicadas.)

The Stone House on the Hill
Cicadas are the sound of summer and the song of the Mediterranean. If you've never heard them, their symphony of sound is reminiscent of those 'shaka-shaka-shaka' rhythms generated by orchard sprinklers or an electric wire’s buzz in the mid-day heat.

Our part of Greece was quite literally abuzz with the cicadas song when we returned two weeks ago from our whirlwind trip to France and Switzerland. Since then the temperature has been rising and the cicadas have been singing so . . .

Sunset from The Stone House on the Hill
Our time here - for now - is coming to an end. We are next week returning to America’s Pacific Northwest.

Spring burning in the grove brings a magic haze
As anyone with a second home, vacation home, boat, cabin, RV or other can understand, we are in the pack-up, close-up phase of this ‘other’ life we step into and out of like scene changes on a stage. 
Dust covers will soon be in place; cupboards and refrigerator emptied of perishable food. 

We’ve attached specially treated bags to our olive trees in an eco friendly attempt to kill the ‘dako’, the fly that is ravaging olive crops in Italy and Greece and who might threaten in our absence. We’ve applied the insecticide to keep our citrus trees from insect attack during the next few months.  (A whole new set of behaviors and routines we’ve developed as result of this ex pat adventure.)

Our grove was carpeted with wildflowers in March
We will have lived more of 2017 on this side of the Atlantic than on the other.  So as I am packing up our life and house I thought I'd tell you a bit today about our last 106 days ~ random memories of a spring at our Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese:

It is only fitting to start with 'our' cats (who’ve been front and center of our FB posts of late): The photo below is of Mom Cat/Maggie Mae, left, Princess/Sulita/BooBoo, right, and Scamp/Mackie on the floor. 

Maggie Mae is the former stray who’s been the neighborhood baby producing machine until finally we took her in for surgery and she's now our Maggie Mae, who's enjoying being a permanent ‘empty nester’. Princess (aka Sulita and BooBoo, depending on the house she's living at) continues to reign at our place despite belonging to a couple from Athens who have a home further up our hill and are here for less time than we are. Scamp (aka Mackie) lives three doors down, but the other cats at that house intimidate him – as does his shadow – so he hangs out with us when we are here.

Cats Rule at The Stone House on the Hill

And what is a blog post about our Stone House without a report of projects undertaken and completed during our stay?

P1040065Aside from obtaining our residency permits the only big project we hoped to accomplish was converting our concrete ceilings to wood. And once we made the acquaintance of the carpenter and his son who live at the foot of our hill, it didn’t take long to make that happen.

I guess we also had planned to buy a car, but you regulars here know that could only happen with the residence permit which came too late in the stay. That goes on the 'next fall' list.


We’ve also been reminded the last few months of the joy that comes from spending quality time with friends. Not a rushed dinner or a quick text, but real time, real talk. Our friendship world is expanding as we meet others in this new home base. And we love having friends from our other world come and stay with us. What fun it is to show those from our U.S. life this new world of ours and have them say they finally understand what drew us here and what makes us want to stay longer.

The Scout and his long-time friend Mike look out at  Viros Gorge.
Even better when they say they want to return for another visit!

We knew all these friends back in Kirkland, two have moved here, two were visiting
This really is a world where meals can last for hours, where wait staff won’t clear dishes or bring bills until we summon them. . . we’ve grown accustomed to the pace and this lifestyle.

Orange honey cake, one of our favorites
Our days have been sweet and we’ve savored each of them.  More importantly we’ve reminded ourselves how important it is to keep stepping out of our comfort zone. . .and make ourselves stretch our minds and abilities. It isn’t always easy to live in a foreign country but it sure is fun. For that reason we are counting the days until our return in September.

Bus to Kalamata passes through our village a couple times a day
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
--Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

I’ve not yet told you about how we toured the French countryside by public bus nor have I shown you some of the hauntingly beautiful but nearly abandoned ‘tower’ towns just down the road from us here.  I will get to those in future posts but its time to go dig out the suitcases. . .I've got some packing to do!

As always thanks for the time you spend with us and our wishes for safe and healthy travels. And a huge thank you for the overwhelming response you gave us to the news of our Greek residency.  Your enthusiasm and good wishes have brightened our week and made our success a real celebration!

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration


  1. Believe it or not, the cicadas are chiming as I write this! And, as soon as the first day of summer arrived, so did they! Jackie, I have so enjoyed following you and the Scout around on your Greek adventures. You have managed to accomplish so much since you first wished for your stone house on the hill. I remember crossing my fingers, waiting that it would be yours, and now you are even a resident hosting your visitors and taking them to all the beautiful places that inspired you to make Greece your second home.

    We'll miss you when you're back in Seattle!


    1. Oh Poppy, such a lovely comment and I too remember writing you to tell you our secret ~ about our potential house purchase; fingers crossed and hoping that we could share in your wonderful, beautiful country. I was reminded then and now just how close a friendship I have with blogosphere friends - I do think you know me better than those IRL.

  2. With a view like that from your house, I'm sure it is hard to leave. Such expansiveness and beauty.
    I hope that dako fly doesn't jump over here to Israel's olives. Good luck with that.

    1. Yes, Dina, you don't want the olive dako coming your way. They are horrid and ruined several crops in our area last year. Shalom~

    2. Your picture here of the olive trees is exactly like ours in Israel, complete with the old rocks and the red wildflowers.

  3. Never knew about the cicadas singing.
    Lovely pictures of a lovely place.

  4. Your dual life of Greece and the PNW continues to amaze me.

    1. It amazes us as well at times. . .may be time to downsize to just one side of the Atlantic or the other! Thanks for the comment!

  5. Love your opening photo of the "stone house on the hill" and the bougainvillea spilling over the walls. Life is indeed sweet and it looks like you've found the key. So happy that your Greek residency visa came through for you and that you can set your own pace now when you're on this side of the ocean rather than the doing the Schengen boogie! Happy and safe travels!

    1. Yes, just as you two said, there is such a sense of relief and freedom that comes with that little piece of plastic. We plan to return asap and stay a bit longer next time! (sent you an email with more details).

  6. I think I understand how hard it must be to have to leave your stone house on the hill. I'm ensconced in our "down the shore" house in New Jersey and I'm already dreading having to return to urban life in the fall. (I hope no one is feeling sorry for me.) I remember falling asleep to the sound of cicadas every summer at the camp where my parents' worked in the Pennsylvania countryside. It must be hard to leave the cats when you go. Will they make their way to their other homes? Having met you in another hemisphere in Hawaii, it would be fun to visit one of your other habitats some day. Safe travels.

    1. Well I've made the rounds of the neighbors two of the three homes have assured me they will feed all 'our' cats, our friends are coming twice a week to check on them and the gardener is to put food out every other day. The only thing I suspect they will miss is sleeping in our house on these rather hot days!

  7. Jackie are you leaving so soon? But then you are coming back in September for the harvest I guess. It is hard to be away from the farm. My husband is like that too. he hates to leave because who will take care of the farm. Haha! Why you two have turned into regular farmers at this point. Looking forward to your swift return and have a happy trip.

    1. Hi Mary, We leave tomorrow and will be back in September as we booked this trip somewhat thinking we might still be traveling as tourists. Our plan is to stay much longer when we return. . .YAY!!!!

  8. Love how you call the sound of the cicadas "insect mariachi bands'! So appropriate. I love the sound and it always makes me reminisce about the south of France. Love your ongoing pictures of "your" cats. They are so cute. You are definitely "living the life" all of us dream about!

    1. We are living our daydreams, that is for sure, Janice. Just last night we toasted ourselves for having the guts to take the chance -- we would have missed quite a wonderful segment of life if we'd have passed on the opportunity. Thanks much for the visit!

  9. Oh! packing up! I don't think I could tear myself away! But oh, what great plans you will be making and anticipation you will have for your return. I already can't wait to dip back into your Greek life. Safe travels back "home".

    1. Well, I've still got a few more stories for you all from Greece so hopefully it will serve to keep me there mentally at least for a bit longer!

  10. That orange honey cake looks delicious. Like pineapple upside down cake for people (me) who don't like pineapple. :)

    By the way, tell Princess, Scamp and Maggie that my Jager kitty says hi. Seriously, he won't get away from the screen!

    1. Hi Jill, I delivered your message to Princess, Scamp and Maggie before we left! And you are absolutely correct about the orange cake - I am a chocoholic and would never pass on anything chocolate UNLESS it was orange cake make in Greece. It is Absolutely. Fantastic. Thanks for commenting, hope you'll do so often.

  11. It is so nice to read your posts and to see so many lovely aspects captured in your photos. Great memories!
    A very nice summertime!

    1. That is such a lovely comment. I am glad you are enjoying them and I do hope you'll continue to comment often~

  12. Thanks for the post. I was last in Greece 30 years ago, and loved it. It is a place I want to take my husband. I am wondering how the economic situation affects tourists. Can you speak to that? Also, what is it like climate-wise in Jan. through April? If the mainland is not warm, do you know if the Greek islands are warm? THANKS, Wendy

    1. I don't think as a tourist you will even notice there is an 'economic situation'. Tourism, as a matter of fact, is up in Greece and new hotels opening all the time and increased flights arriving at the airports. I'd check a weather app for average temperatures once you have a destination in mind and a timeframe in which you would travel. I can tell you that it is beautiful in The Mani where we live from March - June and again in the early fall. Winters can be chilly and rainy but then again you might have a mid-60F-degree day quite often. You might check some of our other posts for information on other destinations in Greece as well. Hope to see you here often, Wendy.

  13. Hello, your place in Greece is just beautiful. I would not want to leave. Hubby and I considered having two places here in the states, it seems difficult to us. The orange honey cake looks delicious and the view and sky shot are lovely. Wishing you a safe trip to the PNW. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

    Happy 4th of July!


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