Something I seldom talk about is how much living in Hellas has taught me.
As some of you may know I was a big city girl who decided to leave the rat race and move to the island of Lesvos (to the very house my husband was born in) to raise my son in a low crime environment where the beach was his playground and he was free to walk in the street with no fear of being mugged or molested.
I wanted us to live as close to nature (and more specifically Hellenic physis) as we could without moving to a farm (which none of us knew anything about running). And thanks be to the Gods, this came to pass. So did the current economic crisis that is causing many people to consider leaving Hellas - but we will not be leaving, regardless of how difficult it gets. Why? Because all the reasons that brought me here are still relevant and unaffected by the crisis. Plus it has given me countless reasons to love the country more than I ever did before.
I love that there is no way not to be affected by nature here. When its hot, its damn hot. When its cold, its freezing. The presence and influence of Sun, Winds, Mountain, Sea, Earth, Fresh Ground Water, Rock, Tree, etc is palpable. Exposure to their extremities makes one extremely grateful for their opposites. Never before have I given such thanks for cold water when it is so hot or for hot water when its cold.
I also love the way we eat. Cities are full of unseasonal fresh produce but thankfully small towns tend to be suspicious of things that were grown by strangers. The economic crisis has highlighted all the reasons why it is a glorious blessing to eat seasonal produce, sold so fresh that the red earth is still encrusted on it. It has stressed the importance of buying from the tiny green grocers who, in turn, buy from small local farmers. Not only is it tastier and healthier but it is also cheaper, environmentally friendly and supports the local economy.
As I said above, I have been thinking recently...thinking that the economic crisis may be our Silenos, our teacher and initiator into a better world. Not the capitalistic consumer culture of global imports with its carbon trail that the EU is trying to force on us but rather a natural world where we eat what is grown locally and live without that which we do not produce. Yes, it means that we will not have as many choices. We cannot just eat whatever we feel like. We have to eat according to what is available.
And here is the part I love best.
Hellenic traditional food has a recipe for every local edible plant of every season that, eaten at its correct time, yields an annual kaleidoscope of culinary delights that mirror the majesty of every phase of nature throughout the year.
A return to eating directly from the local soil is a return to tradition and the roots of a civilisation; the return to Demetra and the return to life after sojourning in the dead airless world of consumer culture with its psychological angst.
So yes, let us fight for justice but let us also joyfully learn the lessons that this crisis has and will still teach us.
It has shown us friend from foe. It has exposed the lie that is modern democracy. It has amplified the importance of humaneness and honesty. It has illustrated our collective responsibility for the survival of local economies. It has reinforced everything we ever feared about living on bank credit. It has strengthened the bonds of family and our bond with the land. It has inspired gratitude for the Oikos (household) and our ability to maintain it. Never before have the household rites held such vital significance. Never before have we had so many reasons to give thanks and to appreciate everything we do have, regardless of how great or humble that may be.
The economic crisis may be a death to the life that once was but it is simultaneously the rebirth to a new and better life if we learn its lessons well.