Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Bed in the Yard

Without a doubt, the weather of Greece invites an outdoor lifestyle and with it comes the need for outdoor furniture. In the U.S. lawn furniture can be as fancy as a cushioned couch or as cheap as a metal put-together-with-spit-and-glue chair. In Epirus, Greece, those white plastic chairs that the gypsies sell off the back of trucks, are most likely what sit on balconies and in yards. However, before the 1990s, an overturned wooden box or the steps of a house, were a perfectly good place to sit.
And for siesta, there was always a bed out in the yard. Every house had one. I remember the peculiarity of it when I first came in 1983. But then those beds faded into the familiar background as the years progressed, until they slowly ceased to exist. This photo shows Cousin Evangelini at her house in 1988 preparing for siesta.

A bed outdoors had the same function as an outdoor lounge chair but really more practical when you think about it because it could be used inside or outside. In those days, there was no money to waste on something that would have a limited function -- like outdoor furniture, at least not until the EU money started to flow. And ione wanted to sit outside, rather than recline, a wooden or metal chair could easily be dragged from the house.

It wasn't until many years later that plactic products emerged with a vengeance. In fact, I helped to increase the barely-existent Epirote global footprint by bring plastic ziploc bags and plastic tupperware containers because I was not satisfied with the cloth that was laid over the food as protection from flies or the leftovers in the refrigerator, uncovered. Alas, I hold my head in shame.

After the two o clock meal, shops closed for the four hour “siesta.” And all movement stopped – even the animals slept. There was neither a bark nor a tweet (only a few light snores emerging from those beds) and it was a silence I've not heard since.  At first, it seemed odd to give so much time to the day for something as useless as sleep, but then as time went on, I could feel my eyelids grow heavy as I ate the afternoon meal and it just seemed natural.

My daughter, Nikki, however, wasn't having it. She never did see the point. On the other hand, Thomas, my son, was a true sleeper so he was completely on board with it all, no matter where we happened to be at the time. I also embraced it, though I usually slept less than an hour. But I would wake up so refreshed and ready to start anew.

There is something about having everyone around you just stop and regenerate. I long for those siestas when I'm away from Margariti. There is wisdom in such a custom. 

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