Petrichor

raining

Every morning I’m greeted by Platon’s loving stare, as he patiently waits for me to join him in celebrating the day ahead as an opportunity for affection and adventure, with a dose of mischief mixed in for good measure. Today as I woke, I became aware of a warm weight, resting on my hip bone, and opening my eyes found his deep pools of love staring back at me, above the chin planted firmly on my hip. I recently taught him to put his chin on me rather than paw me for attention, as my bare legs in shorts were getting a bit scratched and bruised. As I curled round to cuddle him, he rolled over playfully, accepting a tummy tickle with a stretch, before coyly placing his paws over his face and burrowing into me. Each day I am so grateful for this big bundle of love, in the shape of a not-so-little puppy.

After some cuddles and a quick game where I hide one of Platon’s chews under the many pillows for him to hunt and recover, we got up for coffee. This morning was cooler than usual, with some fluffy clouds and a mist over the sea. So rather than habitually heading off to a beach on the west of the island, I decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and walk down the winding road on the eastern sunrise side, to another small beach facing Ithaca (our neighbouring island).

The walk downhill enjoys beautiful views of the channel of sea between the islands, often busy with sail boats, crisp white triangles dotted against the deep blue water; and little tourist boats for hire, hugging the shoreline looking for secluded beaches, a plume of wake trailing behind them. Today however there was less ‘traffic’, and the cotton-wool clouds cast shadows, dappled on the rippling sunlit surface. Platon trotted jauntily on the lead, pausing frequently to sniff the interesting hedgerows, and we admired the hardy geraniums on top of lichen covered stone walls, amidst the long dry grasses and dense bushes. This island is much greener than many of the Greek islands, with lush vegetation covering much of the mountains, lots of olive and cedar trees, as well as an indigenous pine and evergreen oak trees, that run right down to the sea.

We had barely passed through the next village to ours, when Minas stopped in his passing car to offer us a lift, which I accepted more for his company than a rush to get to the beach, as it’s rare to see him away from his post surveying his popular restaurant in the square. Platon refused steadfastly to sit in the back with the tiles, off cuts of wood and other scary building materials, opting instead to share the passenger seat on my lap, with his nose on the windscreen, and a paw on our driver. He is not a small dog, and at almost 30kg quite a load, as his paws dig into my bare legs, searching for balance. Minas is my favourite grumpy Greek, his dry wit and satire are a hard shell disguising his soft, squishy centre. As he barks complaints at his staff, only the sparkle in his eyes gives him away, that and the loyalty of waiters who remain, and return each season to be chided again. He loves Platonas with the broken heart of someone whom has loved and lost a dear dog, unable to contemplate replacing the irreplaceable. He understands the indescribable connection of unconditional love and uncompromised trust, between a canine and his person. He chatted to Platon, encouraging his barking as we passed dogs in their gardens, and on arrival at the beach asked him for a kiss, before turning his car around to go back to where we came from, so I realize the lift was a gift for all of us, not simply a convenience as if we were heading in the same direction.

Once at the beach, Platon ran through the olive trees to sniff at the shoreline, running away from the boisterous waves as if being chased, and returning again to play the game. We played chase, taking it in turns to pursue each other, and ‘breakfast’, where I throw his kibble just above his head for him to jump and catch. As we both started to tire, we made our way to the nearby Taverna for a bottle of water, and started back up the hill as the skies gradually darkened. There is a footpath, steps cut into the steep woodland, favoured by shepherds and their flocks. Often I walk down on the winding road and back through woods, but today Platon wasn’t keen on sniffing goat smells, and the rumble of thunder convinced me the road was perhaps a better bet. Platon isn’t afraid of thunder, ‘just Zeus moving the furniture’ as my friend Hilda describes it, or even the lightening that cracks like a stinging whip and flashes dramatically; but heavy rain is another matter entirely.

It started slowly enough, just as Nikos and Panagis passed us in their van, smiling and waving. Big heavy drops, landing noisily and then rapidly, turning the steep road into a fast running river, with all the olive tree leaves ‘dancing’ as the drops bounced off them. We trotted up the hill, waving at our friend from the beach, (the little mermaid’s grandfather), as he passed with a car full of grandchildren, and the water delivery tanker, who honked his horn loudly as we waited on the verge of the narrow lane, dripping. After so long without rain, the earth welcomed the storm with a wonderfully aromatic celebration, richly fragranced with the refreshing wild thyme that grows on the side of the road, as if it has exhaled a scented sigh in gratitude. Petrichor is the name of this aroma of rainfall on dry earth, and is derived from Greek (but of course!), Petra meaning stone, and ichor which is apparently a golden fluid that flows through the veins of the gods, an immortal substitute for blood; the knowledge of this makes it smell even more deliciously pungent for me.

As the rivulets of rain ran down the back of my neck, and pooled in my Birkenstocks, the tropical downpour suddenly felt as if someone had opened the faucet fully, as I struggled to see amid the drenching. Platon distinctly decided enough was enough, and scuttled under a bush at the roadside, lying prone, chin on the ground between his paws, refusing to move on the end of his lead. I however, would not fit under the bush, and just as I was calculating how far we had to go, the little mermaid’s grandfather returned in his car, after dropping off his grandchildren, to collect us, with a towel on the back seat. Initially Platon stayed stubbornly under the bush, but eventually allowed me, begrudgingly to lift him in to the car, for some unknown reason diesel engines frighten him, although I personally couldn’t hear much above the sound of the rain hammering. I held on to him, soaked to the skin in my vest and shorts, as our kind friend drove us right to our home, very grateful and sopping wet. Platon then didn’t want to get out the car, but as soon as I hauled him off the back seat, he darted up the steps and scratched impatiently at the door, as I followed hot on his heels with the key, shouting my thanks as we dashed. Once inside he ran straight to his favourite rug, and settled down prone again, into a position I recognise as a peaceful protest, otherwise known as downright stubbornness, and hopelessly immovable. I stood laughing and dripping all over the floor, whilst he watched me quickly find towels to mop up, and then relented because of his love of being rubbed dry, and a game that involves him hiding under the towel and blindly leaning into me.

After a quick hot shower, and a steaming cup of Jasmine tea, we’re snuggled up on the sofa together as I write, meanwhile the storm has blown over, the sun is shining, and the laundry is ready to be hung out again. I hope that wherever you are, whatever your weather, that you’re having a beautiful day; and if you’re not, remember that however bad the storm is, the sun will always shine again. Lots of love & blessings, H&P xx

Photo via Pinterest, sadly uncredited. Words ~Hayley Darby ©2015

Writing again..

Platon smiling
A cool breeze slipped through the shutters, and the tinkle of goat bells crept into my consciousness. The warm, breathing, body beside me sighed and rolled closer into my legs; wagging his tail, before lifting his head to check whether I was awake, finally! As if he’s been waiting for all eternity for the pleasure of my company. Every morning I am greeted with the happy expectant face of Platonas (my puppy), eager for another beautiful day of playful adventure, full of joy and optimism, which must be contagious, because I never feel any different. Once he is satisfied that I am actually awake, he gets up to inspect my face, and pushes his big black, wet nose into it, in response to the kissing noises I make. Then he stretches his bottom high in the air and his chest low, in a classic play bow; waiting for me to stir, giving in to a slightly impatient cuddle if I’m not quite ready to get up. As soon as I push back the covers, he jumps to the edge of the bed, showing off his impressive ‘downward dog’, front paws on the floor, back legs still on the bed (and he’s a tall dog), until he gracefully jumps down, and scampers around, wagging his tail, waiting for me.

Our home on our favourite Greek island is an attic apartment; which sounds very urban, but is actually on a small farm in a cute little village. We have the most amazing view across the sea to the neighbouring island to the east, and across the valley to dense forests of olive and cypress trees to the south and west. Platon impatiently rings the goat bell I have tied to the balcony door handle, even though I am only a few steps behind him, and we step out together to watch the morning sun glisten on the sea, having spilt over the mountains of Ithaki, bathing the early fishing boats and the occasional cruise ship on passing. Platon then pops up onto the sofa to watch patiently as I make coffee, he knows that the day starts with a leisurely cappuccino and sharing of cantuccini (those deliciously crunchy, Italian, almond biscotti). I potter around the kitchen, tidying up the crockery in the drying rack, shaking out the table cloth over the balcony, and watering the herbs (basil, mint, and chives) on our doorstep with the water from the washing up bowl. Our water is delivered by tankers to a big stone ‘sterna’, and we are much more careful than mains usage. Then as the coffee pot starts to gurgle, I froth the warm milk and Platon makes a space for me on the sofa. He sits with his paws on my lap, lowering his chin to look up at me most appealingly, as I dip each biscotti into the froth, and waits for his share (once I’ve nibbled away any almonds in his half, as they’re not good for dogs). My mornings are no longer my own, to check in and reflect on my feelings, but are filled with more love than I could ever imagine; and more than a little slobber as he dribbles in anticipation for each morsel of our shared breakfast. I wouldn’t change them for anything!

I don’t really know why I stopped writing before Platonas and I found each other in a barren wilderness; him literally starving, me (with a car load of food shopping) wondering which direction my life would take. I guess it was a combination of things, moving to California for a summer, finding myself anxious to get up and out in the mornings rather than savouring my thoughts and feelings (hideous, nosey landlady vs. coffee at the beach watching the early surfers, no competition really!). Then there was a feeling of change, lacking a plan, full of uncertainty, and a fatigue from giving, (which I am sure sounds selfish, but was actually a form of self-preservation). After my summer in Cali, and a brief encounter in London, I came to Greece, (my sanctuary), and just let myself ‘be’, as I waited to see where the flow would take me. Floating in turquoise seas and walking ancient paths through olive groves and crumbling ruins; choosing quiet and solitude, and adoring the simplicity. Then I travelled a lot, (Mexico, Florida, Colorado, New Orleans, and more of California), worked with some Olympic athletes, and got caught up in a relationship for a while, none of which was conducive to journaling. Then I returned to Greece for a few weeks holiday, found Platonas and stayed for the summer, briefly moving to Italy in the autumn, before driving home with my best ever travel companion to London (a tale I will write about soon). Winter was stressful, for all sorts of reasons, but my loving ‘little boy’ never failed to warm my heart and induce laughter at his comical character. Every spare moment was spent snuggling on the sofa together, walking around the vast and enchanting cemetery, or chasing each other around until we both collapsed panting and exhausted. Writing was not a priority.

It felt like months of waiting to return ‘home’ to Greece, and now we are here, we are appreciatively soaking up every sunny second. And each day, as we head to the beach after breakfast, wander along shady goat paths in the afternoons, or pop into the port for shopping and coffee, with a cast of delightful characters; I can feel my thoughts forming sentences, committing to memory the feelings as I relish them, and feel pulled to write to share and remember these precious moments. And now, as my attention is drawn to the raised head that angles inquisitively, I am being called to walk up the hill, amidst my landlords garden of tomatoes, onions, (and all sorts of vegetables) as the goats potter around them; to sit under an old olive tree and feed Platon ice cubes in the heat of the day, him crunching noisily, and me telling him why I’ve started writing again. Because I never, ever, even for a nanosecond, want to forget any of this chapter of my life that he’s spending with me. X

Blessings & love, Hxx

Rainy days and panama hats

panama

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, to another grey, damp day in London. The sky is a pale uniform grey, and the soft opaque light lends a gentle quality to the quietness. It’s not currently raining, but after yesterday’s downpour, the cool air smells peaty and autumnal, and it’s tempting to curl up with my latte and laptop and spend the morning in bed. Yesterday was similar, and the day before, and the one before that, and although the changing season has its own charm, there’s a part of my heart that’s not quite ready to relinquish summer with all it’s carefree fun and joyful beauty, just yet.

Yesterday it rained, all day, relentlessly; starting with that fine rain, the kind that’s heavier than mist but falls slowly, gently, silently, and seems to soaks in thoroughly. I met my beautiful friend CE for coffee, in between her kid’s school runs (her little one has just started and is collected at lunch time). We sat in the big squashy sofa at the back of the café, knees curled up as we chatted about our summer adventures, about how life has a funny way of working out, and our current jewellery making projects and ideas. CE has an Etsy page, and regaled me with some of the sweet and romantic stories her customers write to explain they are purchasing her exquisite designs to celebrate, commemorate, and honour those special life events we wish to remember. She admits that some of the stories break her heart, and that as she works moulding the precious metals, she feels emotionally caught in the circumstances, as if she’s infusing her work with compassion and acknowledgment for each individual piece and it’s wearer. Her work is beautiful, delicate, elegant and exquisite; I especially love her fine droplets work; do have a peep! http://www.etsy.com/shop/chained7?ref=pr_shop_more
In fact she’s offering Pure Nourishment readers a 15% discount on orders placed before the end of October 2013, just mention the code word ‘PURE’ in your order (message to seller). Please do check out her FB page too! https://www.facebook.com/christinaeccojewellery1?fref=ts

CE and I said goodbye as she rushed off to collect her little one, the rain kept pouring, slightly heavier than earlier in the morning, droplets that bounced off the pavement and plopped in puddles, and I wondered whether I really needed to go anywhere in it. My heart pined for carefree summer days, walking out of the house without a thought of a jacket or umbrella, sunglasses perched on my make-up less face, carrying nothing more than my purse (wallet in US terms) and phone, and good intentions. I started to pack away my summer wardrobe, sighing heavily as I lamented the lightness of linens, and softness of cottons, smiling affectionately at the flirty panama hat and comfortable Birkenstocks. Then the phone rang, and everything changed, summer’s reprieve arrived with perfect timing. So I booked a flight and depart on Thursday, to my home from home on my favourite Greek island.. where indeed it also rains, but the light is still incredible and the sea is still warm, and frappes in the port with dear, dear friends are waiting. This weekend I’m packing again, I’ll be including some cosy jumpers and a waterproof jacket just in case, but the chance of the panama and Birkenstocks getting an airing is looking pretty hopeful!! Be careful what you wish for.. it might just be granted, and if you let it, life can surprise you with all sorts of blessings! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are, whatever your weather, it’s all so much better when we’re smiling! Love & happy smiles Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words, Hayley Darby ©2013}

Waking thoughts

coffee steps

Good morning everyone!! Regular readers will know that when in London I usually write in the mornings, and savour those sweet moments as I wake, observing my inner territories as I slip from sleep into consciousness. This is something I have missed in Laguna, where peaceful dreams are abruptly terminated on a daily basis (by a rather inconsiderate neighbour), so that my priority is dressing quickly and fleeing to the beach for coffee in search of a better temperament than the one I wake with. There I find some solace in the waves that smooth the jagged edges, and by the time my latte is done, I am smiling at the day ahead as I watch the surfers gracefully tickle the ocean. I am filled with wonder at the power and magnitude of this incredible entity, and sitting at its edge I notice how small and insignificant we seem, and arrogant to suppose we could control the world we inhabit.

However, despite my mornings at the beach, I do miss that space between dreams and consciousness, those moments of bliss where I sense that everything is exactly as it’s meant to be and I can somehow make perfect sense of the chaos that is reality. I miss the slow realization of my soul inhabiting my body, as I notice my placement of the pillow and the waking thoughts that wash over me. I yearn to hear the whispers of my heart that speak so clearly when I’m not listening to logic or the multitude of concerns and responsibilities that seep in so quickly once the brain stirs into action. I crave that awareness of who I am beyond the person in the life I’m living, but as a force of nature and a spiritual being, without form or boundaries, limits or ambition. And yet I’m acutely aware, that when I’m not here I will miss the ocean, and it will fill my dreams with it’s overwhelming power and mystery, and I will wish I was on the steps at the beach, sipping my coffee : )) Blessings & love Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words by Hayley Darby © 2013}

Busy-ness

blondee

Good morning everyone!! Today I was rudely awoken by the sound of some nearby construction work, which sawed through my dreams and hammered my thoughts into the present moment, as I tried to catch the falling memories. I pushed my head under the pillow, resisting wakefulness, searching for the answers to questions I had forgotten, before relenting and getting up in search of coffee. It’s a beautiful sunny start to the day in London, and as I drew back the curtains, I felt the warm light envelop me, smiling at the blue sky and the sparkling frost in the roof opposite, before bounding downstairs for breakfast.

I noticed myself stretching my neck as I waited for the coffee machine, and felt that the tension I’m used to carrying was unusually absent, as was the headache that often accompanies my waking. I perched on the window sill, smiling at the clouds in my coffee, I have made some changes recently and they definitely suit me. I have also been making time for yoga, returning to regular practice and exploring new classes, and am feeling the benefits enormously.

Sometimes, when we’re busy, we neglect our own needs, pushing them to the back of the queue as we juggle with work, responsibility and relationships; which slowly suffer as a consequence when stress seeps in to upset our equilibrium. ‘Busy’ is a term I’m not terribly fond of, since we all have the same number of hours, minutes and seconds per day as each other. We use the word/excuse when what we’re really describing are our priorities, and when we’re juggling too much, chances are we’re being neglectful in some aspect, if not several. So today I am embracing ‘less is more’ and focusing on the things that really matter, top of my list is brunch with my brother ☺

I wonder what’s keeping you busy, and whether it means you’re missing out on something more important? At least if you’ve read this far, maybe you’ll take a moment to reflect and consider it. Have a beautiful day, whatever you do! Blessings & love, namaste, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via happilygrey.com}