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Paros Shepherd Newsletter Number Eighteen

Published 9 September 04

Greetings from Paros,
My, my!  Two months have rolled by and I am seriously behind in sending out a newsletter from excuses are valid:  I am getting too old to hurry, too laid back to hurry, and/or too lazy, or busy?.... Lousy excuses, but as good as any real ones that I might come up with!
August business was way down but with just the right amount of tourists in the hotel to enable us to enjoy each and every one.  Barbecues in the garden, sunset watching with cocktails at the windmill/art gallery on the hill above us, going to restaurants or beaches with guests.  Or just chilling out, doing nothing in particular.
One highlight of the season was watching the olive trees start (in March) with teensy tiny little blossoms gradually to become huge green olives.  At the moment they are still on the tree but come November will be ready to harvest.  Too bad we will not be here this year to help with that event.  We will miss having a few litres of our own olive oil on the kitchen shelf! 
Another notable happening was keeping a close eye on a couple of almond trees.  Being a city girl most of my life, I was under the assumption that almonds only came in packages  or roasted in pretty gift cans!  This year, I actually got to eat green ones right off a REAL tree in my own garden (as shown me by a Greek friend).  The soft, small and unshelled bud tasted "green" and was not, in my opinion, very tasty.  I secretly worried they were having a joke with me, but found out that Greek woman actually make a marmalade at that stage.  YUK.
By mid August the tree was ready for picking.  The husk opens in the sun while still on the tree, exposing the almond shell inside.  We picked them off, took the almond out and let it dry for a day or two in the sun.  They were ready then to be cracked.  I did not think to put my handy-dandy nutcracker into my suitcase last spring, but we found that a pair of pliers from the tool box worked just as well!  So many guests have sat around the patio table cracking nuts and sipping the drink of their choice while holding a huge pair of bright red pliers in one hand!  Yassis!
(Modeled by Yolanda, Rik & Tim from Amsterdam)
Since we are on the topic of almonds, I also learned that the Greeks pick them directly off the tree, and serve them over ice with a little bit of salt.  I just could never seem to coordinate that, so we served them our way:  dried.  I have heard we might not get them into the United States due to environmental laws so now we are pushing them onto friends here.  I had hoped to put a few small bags into Christmas stockings!
An event that sometimes takes place around midnight is the blooming of our Queen of the Night cactus.  I believe I wrote a couple years ago about this.  It is always a thrill to see.  This year's cactus had many more blooms, and the Queen's night time secret was very several guests, around the midnight hour, could be seen to be quietly sneaking around her with flash cameras in hand! 
Weatherwise this year can be summed up in probably one word:  WINDY!   (Wind storms are actually a very common summer occurrence here in the Cycladic Islands and are called Meltemi's).  I think of it as nature's air-conditioning...we do have air-conditioning in the rooms, but a natural breeze is the nicest, I think.  However this summer, those breezes were slightly out of hand, and caused the power lines to sing, and some nights the wind whistled like an Irish banshee (do the Greeks have such creatures?) .  On those days, swimming is a challenge (not for kids, though, they love the waves) and most adults head for tavernas with a book in hand.  Or find a sheltered patio on which one can just sit and vegetate (or contemplate?).  For some people this is a skill they have to learn....and just about the time they truly have this "relaxing" down to an art, it is time to go back.....
All in all, this summer was full of good swimming, and all those activities one enjoys in the summer at the beach. 
I did, however, experience a very unusual morning in August.  Normally EVERY morning is clear and bright with sunshine.  But this morning I got up, opened the door and the air was so full of mist that I could barely see two houses away!  The air was still, damp, and eerily quiet.  I immediately went for a walk to experience this phenomena. 
The weather had changed from the north to the south, bringing moist, hot, damp air. It felt a bit like a sauna.  As I walked along, things suddenly loomed out at me:  a man on a wall waiting for his lift to work, a dog walking along the road, a cat lurking at the garbage bin, a shop owner opening his door.  Nothing could be seen until right on it....
I found the sea and it was the sun was JUST starting to come was glassy still, turning pink and blue.  Not a ripple, not a sound.  I wish I had my suit on, as a dip then would have been priceless.  My guess is the water would be very warm.  As it turned out, I ended up at my friends house where we sat in her garden and talked in whispered tones while drinking coffee.  Speaking louder would be an intrusion, somehow.  In an hour the fog had lifted and everything became normal...except that day our weather was hot and humid, continuing to come from the south.  Thank goodness those days are rare.  It really is not comfortable.
We are at the end of the season, which as you may know or have heard was definitely NOT Greece's best.  We are not sure if it was due to people staying away from Greece because of the Olympics and the fear of terrorism, or the Euro or what.  We did watch the Olympics, and felt elated it went without a hitch (terror wise), and hopefully the TV networks of the world did a super job of exposing the world to Greece's beauty.  Every hotel owner and restaurant owner is banking on that hope....that the Olympic TV watchers will see Greece as a place they want to visit next summer.  We are hopeful, and waiting......being every optimistic!
Hello from Michael,
    Our plans for the winter and next season are shaping up nicely.  We will write more in the next newsletter.
    If you are at all interested in coming to Paros in November for the olive harvest, please let me know soon.  We have to coordinate with the farmer and a year-around hotel.
Please take a look at some Greek cooking offers  HERE

Or numerous travel bargains


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