Thursday, August 02, 2007

Holiday Romancing

Visiting Greece as a young student back-packer was a formative experience in my young life, especially time spent in Crete. Twenty eight years passed before we returned there, and re-discovered its natural simplicity and beauty in all kinds of 'ordinary' experiences.

Mulberries - Khera beach, Crete

Yesterday's progress by-passed
consigned to its present fate,
the steep and stony path we take.
Ancient sea shore guardian,
of scattered dwellings
and a whitewashed church hidden
by a wild and tangled garden.

We arrive parched and hungry
for something more than a brief respite
from the heat of a summer's day

A counterpoint of crickets and crashing waves
serenades an ancient tree, gnarled of trunk,
yet elegant in the shade
it gives to those who would enjoy
its hidden delight and glory.

A rich feast of purpling berries beckons to the curious -
the taste of blackcurrant and raspberry in one
astonishes the parched tongue
as much as cool water comforts and cherishes.
Fragile to the touch, abundant juices burst forth
leaving their rude signature on grasping fingers,
eager lips and unprotected clothes.

How many generations have passed this way
commanded by bells to visit heaven's earthly court?
but lingered here to learn temptation (or its illusion)
in most innocent ways in this small corner of Paradise?

And I, sojourner, seeker of tranquillity,
tasting bliss unreproached, free,
offer praise where duty does not call.

JKK. 13.7.96


Annecy meant a great deal to us, as we camped there four summers in a row, when the children were old enough to enjoy the freedom of a camping holiday, taken towards end of season, and often in time to witness the distinct break in the weather mid-August, that heralds not only la rentrée scholaire, but the start of autumn.


We awaken to the first chill of autumn
to the sound of rain and complaint of thunder,
gathering clouds obscuring distant peaks.
We rise reluctantly and shivering;
first light to sunrise is a long vigil.
Single scorched leaves flutter gently earthward
among the glistening droplets: parched earth and
forest offer oblations of white mist,
reducing mountains to dark veiled shadows.
Morning arrives, then feigns to leave again.

JKK, revised 12.8.95


A couple of summer holiday we spent camping in Provence, where the landscape, rather than the hot dry sometimes windy climate awakened thoughts of ancient times.


Perhaps there were times
when fields rich with vines
did not order these vales
and shape the joy and sorrow
of those who toil;
but memories fail.

Cypress and olive more random then-
harsh stubborn grasses
thick with poppy and cornflower;
buffalo, bear, wolf and wildcat
everlasting woodland, fetid swamp;
the smoking hearth a rarity.

But where living water passed
through scorched and stony soil,
roots already gnarled with fight
drew savour and bore sweet fruit
hanging heavy at summer's end
intoxicating the hungry hunter.

There was born a gentler desire
to befriend and nurture
a source of joy and refreshment,
of which all might partake and be as gods,
if only for the passing of the evening sun
through shimmering haze into darkness.

Villages and towns astride the hill tops
presiding or commanding over all you now survey
since your fires and ploughs drove back
the wilderness and its beasts;
do not forget in your satisfaction
it is only a short while since you were young.

JKK 21.8.87