Monday, June 10, 2024

A Song of Summer

It was early when I heard the soloist; the sun was just peeping over the hill behind us. With the temperature already in the hot zone as I sipped my first cup of coffee a few mornings ago, the sound of music was loud and clear.

Sunrise and the song of summer

In this afternoon's warm summer breeze, it seemed as if the olive tree branches swayed in time to the music; the song echoing across the grove, now sung with gusto by an entire choir. 

On both occasions I was hearing what I will forever consider 'the song of summer' and theme song to our expat life in Greece: 

A choir sings a summer song in surround sound

The song of summer is sung by the cicadas.

A Cicada Kalokairi 

Kalokairi is summer in Greece

Kalokairi is the Greek word for summer.  'Kalo', or 'kala' in Greek is 'good', so calling this bright, sunny season kalokairi makes absolute, perfect sense to me. (It is one of the few words I now have down pat in my fledgling Greek vocabulary).  

Kalokairi is such a happy, upbeat season that it seems only right that its arrival is announced by musicians who will continue their sizzling soundtrack until autumn takes over.

Residence permits - a ticket to the 'summer concert'

The song became our theme song back in early June 2017. It was then, upon receiving our first Greek residency permits, we could stay here as long as we wanted. Our time would no longer dictated by those tiresome 90-day Schengen Zone limits. Giddy with the newfound freedom, we agreed to extend that stay, just because we could! 

Instead of an actual date though, I told The Scout that I wanted to stay 'until the cicadas sing' to announce summer's arrival. Up until then, I'd missed these troubadours of summer.

Summer scenes in our world

Stay we did. Until the end of June. The cicadas had begun their summer serenade. And that's when those little critters' song became not only metaphor for the onset of summer but also for our seismic shift in life. We moved to Greece four months later.

Cicadas in Cultures

One thing we've learned since moving here is that pretty much everything we encounter in the modern-day world has some deep-seated roots in Greek history, culture and/or language. 

Cicadas, pronounced 'se-KAY-das' or 'se-KAH-das', are no exception.


Stories handed down from ancient Greeks tell of men who were so obsessed with singing that they forgot to eat and drink. They were turned into cicadas by the Muses and given the task of keeping tabs on which humans were showing proper reverence to the Muses, those goddesses of music, poetry and myth.

Cicadas important in Chinese history and culture 

Even in ancient China the cicadas represented 'rebirth'.  They certainly did for us that summer as we closed out our life in the United States and moved to Greece.  That was definitely a 'born again' into a new world and culture experience!

During the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220CE) amulets shaped like cicadas were placed on tongues of corps to symbolize rebirth and immortality. Cicadas in today's Feng Shui are powerful symbols of longevity and happiness; their image is used on jewelry and charms. I've not yet found any such amulets paying homage to them in Greece, but I'd certainly be wearing one if I ever do.

Sing it Again

Summer in our world - file photo 2021

I always feel grateful when I hear summer's song reverberating across the hillside on which we live. The song, once only a promise of what summer could be in Greece, now carries memories of the summers we've spent in this adopted world of ours. Now I can't imagine a summer without the cicadas' song playing in the background.  

Summer songs ring out in our Mani area of Greece

Along with the cicadas' song, other signs of summer are reminding us that the new season has arrived. Oleanders are brightening the landscapes with their white, pink and rose-colored blooms. The air is scented by the wild sage, and thyme scattered about gardens, groves and hillsides. 


Signs of summer in nearby Stoupa

Temperatures are hovering at 90F/32C with predictions of it reaching 100F/37C later this week. 
The water supply is at its usual low and fire danger is its usual high. Sunbeds are filling with sea and sun enthusiasts who have traveled here for a small dose of what we enjoy as everyday life. 


Summer sunsets at our house

All is good - ola kala - in our world.  Hope whatever season you are welcoming that all is good in your world as well. Safe travels to you and yours~ 

And in closing I want to give a 'shout out' to a group who we recently met while they were vacationing in the area.  Thanks for taking the time to come and introduce yourselves and tell us that you are readers of 'TravelnWrite' after you spotted us in the village - we hope to see you again on a return visit! .  

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