|Isolated in Our Stone House on the Hill during the pandemic
The two-week lockdown has been extended for another three, until April 27th. While we've adjusted quite well to the permission-to-go way of life, social media is burbling with speculations about possible tighter rules coming the closer we get to Greek Easter, April 17th. We'll deal with that, if, and when it comes.
|Going out for a glass of wine 'to go'
For now I am preferring to think of this experience as a rather strange 'staycation'. One we are managing with mental escapes to some of our favorite places, thanks to souvenirs we've collected along the way. Those things that remind us of another time, another place in our lives . . .
Souvenirs - Are The Keys to Escape
Souvenir - the noun, as defined by the dictionary, as a memento, keepsake, or token of remembrance collected or purchased and taken home by a traveler. It comes from the French verb which means 'to recall or have in your memory'.
The word has been in use since back in the 1700's. But the act of collecting mementos dates back even further, according to travel writer Rolf Potts in his book, Souvenirs. He tells of Egyptian Prince Harkhuf who collected skins and tusks on his journey to Sudan about 2200 BC. His souvenirs were gifts for the pharaoh.
I was re-reading the book (it IS a good read) last week when one passage in particular seemed to speak of this time in our home-bound world::
'People feel the need to bring things home with them from the sacred, extraordinary time or space, for home is equated with ordinary, mundane time and space,' scholar Beverly Gordon observed. 'They can't hold on-to the non-ordinary experience for it is by nature ephemeral, but they can hold on to a tangible piece of it, an object that came from it.'
A Souvenir Studded StaycationWhile a few of our souvenirs do represent some sacred, extraordinary time or space, all of them bring back happy memories of the place from where they were purchased.
|Lake Chelan - between Chelan and Manson
I am sipping a cup of Starbucks Italian coffee while writing this afternoon. It was made from a bag of coffee we tucked into our suitcase back in February while back in the States. We love the stuff and it isn't available anywhere near us in Greece. This bag, purchased at the store in Chelan, Washington reminds us of the other village in our lives.
Last week another edible souvenir took us back to Washington State 'for dinner'. I made soup using a mix purchased from the kitchen store in Chelan. On cold and blustery days in Greece as we were having on the day of the soup-making, it is nice to be warmed by the memories of that other place we hang our hats.
|A taste of Budapest
Another night we 'traveled to' Hungary and to Thessaloniki, Greece when I used paprika purchased in Budapest in November for Hungarian goulash which was accompanied by a red wine purchased on a trip to a vineyard in northern Greece last summer. We had taken a tour of the wine country and enjoyed chatting with the wine maker at Domaine Florian. As we sipped wine at dinner a promised ourselves a return trip when 'this' ends.
|Domaine Florian a highpoint of Thessaloniki trip
The table cloth I am using these days, with its pattern of lemons, was purchased in a small Italian town many years ago. I took it back to the States and for years it served as our taste of the Mediterranean in our suburban Seattle home. It has come back across 'the pond' with us and still brings back memories of our time in Tuscany. Who would have thought that one day I would have a bowl of lemons sitting on it that had been grown in our own Mediterranean garden?!
|That time in Tuscany
|Turkey and Egypt travel memories
Take the metal teapot on our fireplace mantel. Even better than a magic carpet, it transports us back to the Nile River each time we look at it. When we first spotted it in the dimly-lit shop in Aswan, Egypt, it was amid a hodge-podge of other dust-covered items. The elderly galabeya-clad shop keeper, a man of few words, was a no-pressure salesman. He explained the inscription on the handle was likely the name of the person for whom it had been made. And yes, it had been used for tea in a Bedouin camp. The price was roughly $25US. It took two trips back to the shop before we decided it would fit in the suitcase.
The Tree of Life is the subject of the ceramic plate that hangs above it. We had just purchased our Stone House on the Hill and had been looking for something to fill the empty space on the fireplace. While wandering the streets of Kusadasi, Turkey rather aimlessly and on our own (our favorite way to do cruise ship stops) we happened upon a ceramics store. Just looking at it takes us back to that cruise adventure few years ago.
|Jordan, France and Greece on a table top
Another cruise introduced us to the wonders of the Middle East. One of the most amazing wonders was Petra, Jordan where we watched an artist create one of our smallest souvenirs - and one of our most treasured. The little bottle of sand art is like a talisman that we hope will make us lucky enough to return to the Wadi Rum and Petra one day. It sits next to a small tray purchased in Paris many years ago and behind a piece of rock art made in Greece - a souvenir from a friend. Tiny items can stir big memories.
|Until we can travel again. . .enjoy the present
One thing we've discovered is that when you are not focused on researching and planning future travels, you have plenty of time to bask in the memories of travels once taken. Our souvenirs have managed to keep the travel bug from going completely dormant during this time of pandemic isolation.
At our ages, the consumable souvenir is probably the most practical. We know one day these treasures of ours will just be items of which someone will be tasked with sorting and disposing.
Rolf Potts, in his book, writes of being offered some of his aunt's belongings after her death. Most of the things he describes as being without much usable or resale value; among them, souvenirs she had collected.
'Looking at those items, I was struck by how much we collect in life ultimately becomes depleted of meaning: without any sense of memories or desires that led [her]] to save these keepsakes, they felt like a sorrowful menagerie of lost objects.'
For now, our souvenirs are tickets to travel if only by memories. How about you? What souvenirs have you collected? Where are they taking you during your own 'staycation'?
That's it for this week from Greece. Thanks for the time you've spent with us. Stay safe and stay well! Hope you'll join us again next week!
Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday