Why is summer so captivating on Crete?

 

I can’t tell you how excited I am to start my book tour next week.  I wish I could say it is all about getting exposure for my book baby that was “born” on April 30th (official book release date), and certainly that’s part of it.  We will start with a stop in Norwich, England where our friends have graciously offered to host us in their home and even set up a book signing for me.  But mostly, I’m just excited about going back to the island that still has a piece of my heart.  Our British friends in Norwich know exactly what I’m talking about since they lived on Crete for 30 years!  I remember the anticipation of summer days to come as spring gave way to hotter days and higher energy.

(The following is an excerpt from my book, Uniquely Crete:  Life Redefined on a Greek Island)

After a sleepy winter and spring, we noticed that the island began waking up right before Easter.  The locals busied themselves with a cleanup campaign that impressed even the Germans here.  Potholes filled, roads repaired construction sites hummed, hardware stores crowded, terraces and pathways scrubbed, and walls (and tree trunks) given a new coat of whitewash.  What began as a symbolic washing to prepare for Lent continued throughout the spring, and the island buzzed as it prepared for the annual arrival of its most welcome quests:  summer and the tourists.

Spring on Crete is like a gentle simmering of expectation; a pot of goodness warming up on the stove, slowly infusing all the flavors together.  Turn up the heat and you get a full rolling boil of goodness exploding with flavor.  This is Crete in the summer.  It pulsates with life.  Everything and everyone moves outdoors.  Taverna tables sill out into the cobbled streets, patios gush with blooming herbs and flowers, and people linger on the street corners and terraces relishing in the cool night air, a respite for the day’s heat. 

 

Summer exhales hot days and clear skies over tranquil and refreshing seawater.  Nights pulsate with the scent of jasmine intermingled with far away music.  They dance together on the breeze as if celebrating the coolness of the evening.

Summer is also energized by two major groups of people:  Tourists and the people who serve them.  this island of 600,000 inhabitants swells to over 2 million during the summer months, but Crete welcomes them with warm hospitality.  from the popular beach hangouts to the remote mountain villages, the Greeks consistently practice “xenia,” the art of courtesy and generosity shown to a stranger or foreigner.

Our summers on the island meant grilled veggies and fresh fruit from the morning laiki (farmer’s market), beach picnics with friends, the heady fragrance of wild thyme and jasmine, cloudless skies over our hilltop home on the Akrotiri, evening swims as the sun melted into the sea, full moon viewings over Marathi Beach, and the daily no-brainer wardrobe of a pair of sandals and a sundress. 

Summer was, and continues to be, blue and white, the colors of the Greek flag.  Blue skies, blue water, white sands, white heat.  And I can’t wait to soak it all up…

 

 

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