With this post I celebrate the 100th episode of this blog, The Sifnos Chronicler. Please indulge me a moment as I say … Woo hoo! I’m delighted that you’ve come along to mark this milestone.
When I began on my journey into the blogging world, I must admit I was a tad worried. I’ve visited Sifnos many times, always for a month at a time, and have done thousands of photographs there. So I was sure I had plenty enough material. But would my enthusiasm dwindle, I wondered – not for the island and its people, but for the demands of keeping up the momentum to write and post regularly? Would anyone out there discover this blog and would they stick around long enough to see what I had to say? If so, would I ever know about them? The answers to these questions, I can report from this vantage point, have surprised me. Thrilled me, in fact.
From the first time I saw Sifnos in 2006, the island took a firm hold on my heart. And more and more now every time I am back there, I do so much more than see.
I smell. Wild sage as I walk in a field on a hot summer’s day. Frying fish from a kitchen window that I pass by in an alley near noon. The steaming warm comfort when a bowl of revithia is placed before me.
I hear. Church bells across the valley. Wind through the olive trees. Waves gently lapping onto Xeronissos beach. The roar of a motor scooter as it tears through the square.
And I feel, deep in my soul. The way my heart speeds up as the ferry I’m on pulls into port. The kindness of every Sifnian I meet. The love so freely given. The pull back to this island whenever I’m not there.
I’ve written about fishing boats for this blog, large ones and small, and the loving care every one of them receives. About my favourite of the island’s marshmallow-white churches and their dark, cool insides. I’ve written about the ferries, about donkeys, about Greek salad Sifnos-style, and about how I make revithia when I’m at home in Canada and am hankering for a taste of chick pea soup, Sifnians’ Sunday lunch. About the spring flowers. Oh my, those flowers. About how the island prepares for Easter. About the Cycladic food festival in September and the lighting of the towers, the island’s ancient communication system, in spring. I wrote once about the corner where Henri Cartier-Bresson, the famed French photographer, shot his Ile de Sifnos, 1961. I brought news about my first book, The Sifnos Chronicles: tales from a greek isle. I told about the day I walked into The Bookshop in Apollonia and found it on display right alongside the latest Harry Potter. With twice the shelf space as he, I noted with some glee. I told about that magical night when I read aloud from it to an eagerly attentive audience, mere steps from where the events I was describing had occurred. And the day on the dock in Kamares last May when I watched boxes of my second book, Sifnos Chronicles 2: more greek island tales as they were carried off the ferry. The very first time I’d be seeing finished copies of it in print. A thrill for an author if there ever was one.
And whenever I began to fear that I didn’t know what else to say, a reader would write to me, would spark a new idea, and I’d know I wasn’t finished yet. I even managed a couple of times to convince someone else to guest blog. Sometimes I’d read something online that would send me back to my keyboard. That dazzling day that snow fell everywhere in Greece and covered the entire country in a cozy blanket of white. The time that a 10 Beaufort wind storm was predicted and I worried about how my friends, especially those with seaside properties, would get through. The day I woke up, opened Facebook and read that the Agios Georgios, the aged ferry that first took me to the island in those early years, had started that morning on its final voyage, under tow toward a Turkish wrecking yard. By night-time I’d managed, with not a few tears in my eyes, to finish and post, “Ode to an Old Ferry,” a piece that brought forth a large number of equally sentimental replies.
Then there is Linda. She lives near me here in Canada and I first met her when she came to the launch party for my first book.
“I’ve been to Sifnos,” she said, “I lived with a family there in the 1970s for six months and they allowed me to take their donkey wherever I went.”
“Your stories are ones I want to hear,” I said, and I’m thrilled that she allowed me to share them with you.
So … I’ve had plenty of help with this blog and I owe thanks to so many. To Linda, for sure. To the two Michaels who each guest-posted for me. To Sofia who, among other contributions, pointed me once to a fellow islander who’d done photographs of a rare event I wasn’t there to see. To Giorgos for generously allowing me to share them. To those of you whose reply, whether you knew it or not, inspired a new topic. Or who let me know that my words meant something to you and thus encouraged me to keep going. To all in far-flung countries who have simply read a piece or two – Canada, the U.S., Sifnos, elsewhere in Greece, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Germany, Israel, Trinidad, Ireland, Bulgaria, Singapore, France, India, Australia and many more. Yes, my blog host lets me know what countries you come from. To those of you who started out as strangers and have become dear friends that I’m dying to see again.
The community of those who love Sifnos and Greece is vast, it is wide-spread, and is made up of very fine people. I can now confidently report that. I feel honoured to be a part of this tribe.
If you want to read more of what I’ve written so far, you might like to begin here at the first of Linda’s stories. And then just wander where your nose leads you. That is the very best way, I’ve discovered over time, to find out what Sifnos is about.