Friday, December 2, 2016

Insects and other creatures.

Imagine insects and small creatures crawling into your window at night or just living in the cracks of your stucco walls.

I've just reread the hilariously entertaining book, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durell. As Durell, a young boy living on the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s, recounted his intimate relationship with the creeping crawling creatures of the area, I could not help but think of my own, not-so-romantic experience on Corfu in 1987. I'd missed the last ferry to the mainland and had to spend the night in a hotel that boasted a closeness to nature like none I wanted to experience. I'd thought my stint on the mainland in the village of Margariti, a few years prior, had desensitized me to those creatures. But I was wrong.

Rewind to that first experience of the Greek countryside in Epirus, 1983. Within the altered state of mind-numbing culture shock, I'd become hypersensitive to sounds--not only to the lilt of approaching Greek-speakers but also to the barely audible sounds of small creatures that only I seemed to hear until they made their presence blatantly known. Take the Greek termites, for example. A small scratching sound, almost imperceptible, unless you happened to be lying wide-eyed in the middle of the night, a thin sheet sticking to the sweat on your body. In that case, as was the case for me on those sweltering, pre-air-conditioned nights, I implored my husband, Nick, to identify from where the sound was coming but he couldn't hear it. I, on the other hand, could localize the vicinity somewhere near the floor by the door but when I turned on the light, there'd be nothing there. It wasn't until we'd needed that one wooden chair for a dinner guest, that the scratching sound was accurately identified. I retrieved the chair from the bedroom and brought it to the guest beneath the grape arbor where the family had gathered for a meal. The guest sat on it, and with a small creak, the chair disintegrated under his bottom and he fell to the ground.

Ah, Yes! Now Nick understood what that sound must have been . . . the ravenous wood-eaters that appeared as the chair lay like kindling on the ground. With that problem solved, I then focused on the scratching sound overhead as we lay in bed each night. Nick's guttural snores barely masked it. And I could swear there was dust of some kind falling from between the wooden slats of the ceiling as I sat up to listen more closely. Eventually, Nick elicited the help of his brother to remove the tiles of the roof and a cloud of grayness swarmed haphazardly into the bright sunlight and disappeared in search of cover. Bats!

I'd like to tell you that I eventually became acclimated to these creatures, but I cannot. A roof like a fortress and secure window screens are among my most prized Margariti possessions.

Below is an excerpt from the memoir, The Nifi describing that memorable night in a Corfu hotel in 1987:

          .  .  . But on that day, I finally boarded the Corfu plane at Athens Airport, twenty hours after having left New York with my two children. As the cabin pressure changed, sixteen-month-old Thomas pulled at his ears and cried for the entire hour. I was far beyond exhaustion, and I remember thinking that if the engines were to just putter out and we were to go down, I would be okay with that. Really. My judgment and my senses were numb. I was a rag doll with two children pulling at my arms.
          Landing in Corfu, I saw the full staircase being rolled up to the airplane door and realized that I would have the daunting task of carrying two toddlers, numerous bags and a giant radio down them. And it appeared by the smell in the air that Thomas was ready for a diaper change. That smell, along with my own rankness is what I brought to my two awaiting brothers-in-law, Fotis and Christos. 
          Unfortunately, the delay had caused us to miss the midnight ferry—the last one from Corfu to the mainland, so we drove around in a taxi searching for a hotel. We were lucky to find one with a vacancy and if there hadn’t been a monstrously large praying mantis perched on the headboard in that room, and if we had seen it before Nikki had—coming our of the shower, naked screaming and running into the hall—our stay there might have provide me with a bit of sleep before the lady of the night began her escapades. But I lay on that bed, after Fotis and Christos had slain the evil creature, and I was so sleep deprived, I did not have the energy to feel anything. Many years later, Fotis and I would debate about the size of the praying mantis, but I don't think reality has much weight when fear is in control.

Independent authors often have quite a challenge in getting exposure for their work. I hope, dear reader, you will consider writing a review on Amazon or 

No comments:

Post a Comment