Showing posts with label Greek cats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek cats. Show all posts

Monday, April 1, 2024

Olive Grove Lessons ~Life, Love, Loss

 A stiff breeze rustling the branches of the olive trees and making the terrace grasses sway, was enough to pause our stroll in the grove. Sometimes, it was the raucous cry of birds swooping to nests high atop nearby cedar trees that stopped us mid-step. 

Each new noise or movement, they taught me, was a wonderment. We had to pause, listen and watch.  Every time . . .because it might just signify something new and exciting.  

In the grove at The Stone House on the Hill

In the spring, the grove beckoned for a game of hide and seek at the rosemary bush. Sometimes on hot summer afternoons, it was where we watched ants at labor marching across the soil cracked by the intense Mediterranean sun. In the fall, it was games of chase using olive twigs cut during olive harvest that filled our time in the grove. 

Olive grove games

For several years now, I have spent a portion of nearly every day in our olive grove, simply for the purpose of enjoying it. 

It wasn't easy to do that at first. I thought I needed to be pulling weeds, trimming, doing something. That is, until my two feline mentors, Princess and Maggie Mae, decided it was time that I understood the concept best defined by Italians as, dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing. 

Dolce far niente in the olive grove

One can't help but notice the proliferation of self-help tips that fill social media these days. There are mantras, memes, and meditations, all offering ways to improve one's life/outlook/happiness by slowing down, simply calming oneself. Indulging in sweet nothingness. I guess the teachings of my fur girls were much in the same vein - they just taught by example. Peace and happiness could be had just by watching a bug crawl past or a butterfly flutter above.  

The key, I learned from them, is taking time to notice, then allowing oneself the time to enjoy it. 

My grove getaway at the Stone House on the Hill

I honestly can't recall when our trips to the grove became a daily ritual.  I was doing it 'for the cats' in an effort to keep them interested in something far away from the road that passes by the other side of our home, I reasoned.  

Princess, left, and Maggie, right, explore the grove.

In truth, I was getting as much out of those grove hours as were the two felines who accompanied me there.  

Life and Love in Greece

The two - Princess and Maggie Mae -- as we named them after they each had made clear upon arrival -- one year apart and nearly a decade ago -- that they would be making their home with us. While not related to each other, after their initial skepticism at sharing our attention, they were to become inseparable sidekicks.  

Dolce far niente at the Stone House on the Hill

The lessons in the grove took on new intensity back in January as the spread of Maggie's skin cancer was clearly bringing her to the end of her life. During these last three months, our trips to the grove increased and each time we lost ourselves in the sweetness of doing nothing . . .together. 

Savoring those last days. Maggie continued to find wonder in sniffing the air to catch its scents as she sat, watched and listened.  

Maggie Mae Smith

We buried Maggie 10 days ago next to the rosemary where she had spent so many hours enjoying life. Princess and I haven't resumed our trips to the grove. We are both adjusting to Maggie's absence, but we continue to indulge in dolce far niente. 

Maggie was not a fan of our travels!

I've taken a break from the blog in recent weeks to experience that sweetness of doing nothing with my fur girls.  As Maggie's health deteriorated, The Scout and I cancelled all travel we'd planned for the first months of this year. (cat people do those things) With Maggie's recent passing, we have a small window of opportunity to travel in Schengen countries before our residency permits expire the end of April and we are no longer allowed to travel (pending the new permits).  We are ready for some travel adventures again. And he's scouted out a good one - I'll tell you about it in the next post.


Thanks for being with us today - and our wishes for safe travels to you and yours. 
And a big welcome to our new subscribers!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Greece: Goats in the Garden and Gatas at the Door

We were looking for a change.  A change of pace. A change of culture. A change in the routine.

The day we had goats in the garden and the parade of gatas, (cats) at the door at our Stone House on the Hill in Greece’s Peloponnese, we knew we’d found the change for which we’d been looking.

Entry to The Stone House on the Hill

It was a warm summer morning – the windows were open and  I was at the computer when I heard the unmistakable hollow clank of goat bells in the distance. The sound intensified along with the percussion of dozens of un-synchronized hooves trotting on the pavement. 

Greek goat herd - Peloponnese
For we city-slickers-turned-Greek-olive-growers  it was a call to grab the camera and race up the entry stairs to watch them pass our house. We don’t see sights like that in our other suburban world.

Only they didn’t pass . . . City Slicker lesson number one: the herd came to a halt when they saw us. There they stood, blocking the public road. . .well, until they noticed our garden area and all the tasty morsels growing in it.

Heading for my new rose bush -
P1020095We’ve watched Greek goats enough to know that they love to balance themselves atop rocks and as the flock turned towards the garden, The Scout, asked, “You don’t think they’ll jump on the rental car do you?”

Luckily the shepherd and his dog were quickly making their way from the back of the herd to the front and went to work doing what they do best: herding them back to the road and getting them on their way. 

Let’s just say the shepherd didn’t call out a happy greeting to the two of us as he passed.

And Those Gatos/Cats at the Door. . .

PicMonkey Collage
"Princess" in January at left; in June on the right
It began in December with the arrival at our door of  a well-cared for cat whose owner we later learned had left her to fend for herself while he was on vacation.  She first sat outside on our deck peering in the glass doors, so forlorn that within days she’d convinced us to let her inside. At first content to sit on a rug, by the time our three weeks there ended she seemed to reign over us and we’d named her “Princess” for the obvious reasons.

She was sitting at the door again a few days after our return in the spring, but obviously was being well cared for and she didn’t stay long. She simply dropped in it seemed to eat a bit, sit on our laps and let us know she was doing well.

PicMonkey Collage
'Tom' in December at left; in June on the right
“Princess” didn’t come alone last December. Within days of her arrival, her brother (according to our neighbors) arrived. Handsome as he was, he was an out-door cat who twisted me around his paw so easily that I ‘built’ him a cat house using carpet and plastic sheeting to protect him from the winter weather. He ate well while with us. We named him “Tom”, again, for obvious reasons.

Tom returned this spring – in fact, within hours of our arrival at the house.  He’d not fared as well as his sister and sported open wounds to his ears and had lost weight as well as a lot of fur to mites and ticks.  Feeding him wasn’t enough, we made a trip to the vet to get medicine for his wounds and to eliminate the bugs. We later took him in and had his ability to father children taken away.

"Mom" with "Tom" at The Stone House on the Hill
We did that after the cat we believe to be his common-law wife arrived on the scene. We ended up naming her “Mom” for the obvious reasons. . .

"Mom" with the children
Within days of “Mom’s” arrival she brought the rest of the family – and you’ll notice the strong resemblance the wee ones had to Tom.

PicMonkey Collage
Lazy summer days at The Stone House on the Hill
Mom and the kids were feral, as are most of the homeless cats in our area. She finally let us pet her but the wee ones never came close.  Tom, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough attention.  They all become part of daily life at The Stone House on the Hill.

Many of you followed our Facebook posts about the cats and have asked what happened when we left.  Well, it was again a reminder of change in culture and routine.  There, the cats, are just left behind because we were told, they move on to the next home when the humans depart.  I couldn’t quite accept that so we had the gardener putting food and water out for them when he came to tend the plants and friends also came by with food. . .but apparently the cats did as we’d been told.  They moved on and neighbors reported no signs of the cats return.

Tom and Princess - Oct. 2015
I wrote this post back in the States but left it unfinished until our return to Greece. We arrived back at  The Stone House on the Hill last week (and have been without internet because a mouse had eaten through the cable). Now that we are back in the Net World I must conclude this cat tale with happy news:  Princess arrived at our door within minutes of our walking into the house. Tom appeared a couple hours later.  They've been with us constantly - both appear healthy and well cared for. . .so who took care of them and where did they go? We have no idea. . .just one of 'those things' I guess. Mom and the summer babies haven't been seen.

In future weeks I'll be intermixing Greek tales with continuing reports from our Middle East segment of the cruise.  As always thanks for the time you spend with us and hope you'll return soon.

Linking this week with:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Mersad's Through My Lens
Photo Friday - Pierced Wonderings
Wordless Wednesday


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