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Southerly wind at Emporios

Southerly wind at Emporios

  • "Turn on the radio on your mobile to listen to the weather forecast"

It was a calm one that Thursday afternoon. I sat to take the load off my feet, made myself a large cup of Greek coffee, and flopped like a king on a throne at the third table of the tavern, where the light of the sun was the least on me. I was enjoying this view of Emporios or of my paradise, as I call it. The sea looked like a lake, all the boats securely tied up in a line, motionless like soldiers, two or three seagulls, like beggars, chasing a caique that was passing across in the distance. All this under the by now weakening light of the October sun.

There they were, pretty soon after, the afternoon clientelle, who with their loud voices and their theories gave colour to the calm setting. I am not bothered, as I like listening to their stories. “Hey, mate, turn on the radio on your mobile to listen to the weather forecast”. Unfortunately, the forecast upset them, as it mentioned south-easterly, six to seven Beaufort Scale force winds! “Damn it! The sea will come beating on to the shore again and it will make a mess of everything. As if I didn’t have enough work as it is, I will now have to pull the boat out to shore. This kind of weather is the worst one in this place, you can’t fish nor can you even stay put in one place. The askothalassa comes and bathes you from head to toe, and if you stay more than you should, you will rust like those railings over there!” Stefanis thus delivered his theatrical monologue and the others laughed truthfully but a little anxiously. They kept calling others on the phone, until everybody was informed. In less than half an hour the little harbour was as busy as on a summer festival night. Everybody came and they drew the boats in a line on the shore. They made the sea look like a pond without fish. My own lot, since they were the first ones to have pulled their boats out, were now looking on and making various comments, and me, too, together with them. The scenery had already begun to change, the sea turned black and began to swell.

Michalis beats his “komboloi” on the table and then turns to me: “Hey! Koli! You know the old saying that talks about “fire and woman and the sea”? Watch the sea how it’s going to get wild in a moment, and you will understand the real meaning. You, youngsters, what need do you have of all this? You have your “boats” tied up in other places, where the southerly wind and all these Beaufort scales do not apply. Your “winds” and your “Beauforts” are sex and love. But what about us? The sea may have become calm as yoghurt for us but we have lost our “spoons”. Live and enjoy your youth as you want it, dance, sing and love but watch out for the sea and the fire and young girls,” he added jokingly.

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The following day Emporios looked like a battlefield, fierce waves covered everything and reached as far out as the public road. This other view of my paradise was beautiful, too. A wild beauty!

Translated into English by Nikos Loutraris

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