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Lalades, the current state of affairs and the spring beauties

Lalades, the current state of affairs and the spring beauties

  • Mid-March is when lalades* break through on Chios, most of them on lush mountainsides close to Tholopotami village
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It’s been chilly for the past few days, but the north wind blowing is now frail, it’s spring and our body now can adjust to what can be seen, smelt and felt. I parked the car on the main artery and walked down the narrow road. Everything was in bloom: trees, wildflowers, bushes. If there weren’t this new virus threatening us, everything would be normal, that would be just another beautiful spring in our lives; but it’s not the same any more, fear and unawareness now dictate our actions. Day by day, though, the situation is evolving faster than our natural ability to adjust.

Most of the tulips didn’t manage to complete their short life cycle on time as they were plucked by last week’s excursionists who flocked to the fields. It is a heart-breaking view: the grass is trampled and lalades are a lot fewer compared to previous years. An SUV overtook me, pulled over a little further down and a family –a mom and her three kids– got in, all of them with arms full of tulips. Apparently, experiencing beauty on the spot isn’t enough for some of us, who want to usurp this touching image and use the tulips to briefly decorate our house…

I made it up to the stream; it was covered with wild bushes and kermes oaks, all I could hear was the water gliding down the ravine, with the sea and the Asia Minor mountains in the background. I stuck to the dirt road which leads to Petros and Pavlos’ church. I went down to the cistern, water cascades underneath the church; nature was orgasming, bloomed trees and flowers were giving off smells, birds were singing, water was rushing down the slope. I walked across the stream; flowing between old rubble walls designating its bed, it reaches a small mesa. Although the bushes would prevent me from carrying on, the branches were forming a small cocoon. Flat mossy stones on the ground, water was plunging a couple of meters into a vathra before taking up again towards the sea. I sat on the rocks, listened and gazed exclusively at the water, I stayed still for a few minutes.

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I stood up and walked back; the wind was still blowing, the sun was setting, the light was angling down on the lalades, red was turning transparent. I got to the car; carried by the wind, a plastic cup swiftly rolled in front of me.

Translated into English by Nikos Loutraris

* Deriving from the Persian word lale (meaning tulip) and passed into the Greek language through Turkish, lalades is what locals call the distinctively red tulips which fields on Chios abound with mid-March.

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