Monday, 16 April 2018

April 14 – Rock Roses

(Cytinus ruber)

What is the biggest flower on earth? It is the Rafflesia arnoldii whose solitary flower can reach a diameter of one meter, and rightly calls herself Queen of the Flowers. This vegetal colossus hides herself so well in the jungles of South Asia that she is rarely spotted. But when you meet her, you might think it is a flower made of foam, so odd she looks. 

In Europe we have to live with her bonsai version: her nephews/nieces Cytinus ruber. These little flowers do not look at all like the Queen of the Flowers, but they do look odd. They grow in bouquets, the outer flowers female, the inside ones male. The whole lot looks like a bunch of radish because of the globular forms and the bright pink-red-white colour. Myopic people might think it is a fairytale red mushroom with white dots. They grow under the jungle-like empire of the dark green leaves of the rock flowers. 

They have more or less married those wrinkle flowers, as I call these merry sunflowers, whose bushes of white and pink coloured flowers cover many hills and mountain slopes on Lesvos. Hidden under the leaves the parasite Cytinus ruberlives on the invisible roots of the rock flowers.

Somebody told me that her father always picked those flowers and ate them straight away. They might taste like honey. I haven’t dared do this: they also look a bit like mushrooms and in the mushroom world the colour red means poison. But on the internet you can read that these strange plants without a visible stem or leaves worth mentioning are indeed edible and that locals might serve them as a replacement to asparagus. These days wild asparagus still wave with fat young shoots through the air, preferably in the middle of thorny bushes, where it is impossible to get them without your clothes being torn apart.

Greeks usually make an omelet with wild asparagus. If we are to trust the internet, you could also make an omelet with cytinus. It would certainly be a special and colourful dish. The medical world is interested in an extract of these plants to treat dysentery, throat tumors and as an astringent: thanks to the rock flowers, whose roots are the lifeline of the cytinus.

Rock flowers do seem to sunbathe all day and appear useless, but their bushes do work hard to make a kind of resin: landanum. As easy as it is to put a cytinus in your mouth as a honey bonbon, it is difficult to harvest this sunflower resin. It’s the flower petals that sweat out drops of the resin, which is best collected at the hottest hour of the day. In ancient times clever farmers had their goats rush through the rock flower bushes, and afterwards they combed the sticky, valuable resin out of their rough coats. In the middle ages this precarious work was done by monks who flailed a leather belt through the flowers. It is mainly the cosmetic industry that still wants this resin to make perfumes, soaps and deodorants. But you will see no more monks beating the bushes, they now harvest the flowers and little twigs and boil them until the resin comes floating on the water. 

Rock flowers are not monogamous: they also like to pair with mushrooms, plenty of which can be found in their neighborhood in autumn. Another beloved partner is the desert truffle (Terfeziaceae). This descendant from the truffle family does not have a strong taste and costs about a tenth of the price of those so valuable better known truffles. Collecting them will probably not make you rich. But wouldn't it be nice to have a pinch of desert truffle over a cytinus omelet or a honey bonbon? So, we really do have to kneel down on the ground and look for those truffles right under the rock flowers!

(With thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018

Thursday, 5 April 2018

March 30 – Dying boats

(A traditional fisher boat in the harbour of Skamnioudi)

In the story of The Mermaid Madonnaby Stratis Myrivillis a fisherman takes his boat to Mytilini. In the past, lots of people used the sea to go places. Going from Mytilini to Molyvos, you could wait for a ferry, and even though the ship came from a distance, it was a regular connection. Going over the water was in many cases much more comfortable and quicker than crossing the rough mountains on the back of a horse or a donkey.

Greece was a seafaring nation. It is even said that the first inhabitants arrived by boat. But I don’t believe that, because Lesvos used to be glued to the Asian plateau, and it’s from there that hunters, mammoths, prehistoric elephants and apes came to explore the region. Seeing all that water the hunters must have begun fishing and it would not have taken them long to start to build boats in order to catch more fish.

In Ancient Greece warships formed the main fleet. Even when their conflicts were not fought mid sea, soldiers had to be transported over the sea, like during the Trojan war or the Battle of Marathon against the Persians. Also mythology tells us lots of adventurous sea tales, the best known being that of superman Odysseus, who could not find his way back home after the Trojan war. He did not have an astrolabe, an instrument to show your location on the oceans (that was invented either in the 2ndcentury BC by Hipparchus, or in the 4thcentury by the first Greek woman mathematician Hypatia; the scientists are not sure). But from that time on you could no longer come home and get away with telling your wife that you were lost at sea. So ships were for commerce and war, and some for fishing to feed all the men.

At the end of the 19thcentury, business on Lesvos was booming and the shipyards had plenty of work, some of them became famous for their craftsmanship, like those in Plomari and Perama. First they looked for the right trees, then they started the sawing and hammering. The craft passed from father to son.

One of the many pleasantries in Greece today is to settle down in the shadow of a terrace in a little harbour, or just in the sun when summer is not yet there. As is: enjoying screaming seagulls sailing over the water, little waves babbling at the quays, schools of curious fish looking for some crumbs to fall into the water, strolling passersby and a fisherman mending his colourful nets, little boats swinging softly on the heave, their splashing colours mirrored in the water, so often photographed as an abstract beautiful painting.

Skala Sykaminia, Molyvos, Gavathas, Skala Loutron, Plomari, Skala Mystegnon: those are just a few of the many little harbours we have on the island. Lesvos has more harbours than it has terraces at the sea, also more terraces than traditional little wooden boats, and more traditional boats than shipbuilders. 

Europe, keen on getting the fish quota down, offers a subsidy for destroying these colourful little wooden fishing boats. As if they are the cause of overfishing! The sea has become so emptied of fish that local fishermen feel obliged to take that evil offer, just to survive. 

Twenty years ago the Greek traditional fishing fleet consisted of 14,200 boats. Now there are some 2000 left. If these numbers concerned animals, they immediately would be added to the danger of extinction list. Who will protect the local Greek fishermen, the ship builders and their traditional boats?

When recently I was in Palios I saw some skeletons of wooden boats. They were not Greek. Turkey does not take this European subsidy, but they have their own way of getting rid of their old wooden boats. They sell them for a lot of money to smugglers, who put as many refugees as possible on the creaking boats and send them off to sea. Most of these boats do not survive the illegal landing on the rocky shores of Lesvos. Sometimes I have had to cry at seeing such a beautifully crafted boat, built with so much love, only to end up dying, without honour, as a smuggler’s tool.

There is plenty of money to finance expeditions to find antique ships that centuries ago ended up on the bottom of the sea. And they now give plenty of money to destroy museum pieces. What a strange world we are living in!

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

©Smitaki 2018

Saturday, 17 March 2018

March 15 – Poisoners

(Snow drops on Lesvos)

Those Russians, with pointing fingers flying far beyond their borders, seem to think that they are like the ancient Greek gods. The attack with nerve agent in England on a double spy and his daughter has sharpened international relations. I wonder why they left such a clear fingerprint. There are less complicated ways to poison somebody. Socrates for example, sentenced to death because he neglected the then ruling gods, choose as his cup of poison, an extract of hemlock, a plant easy to find here.

The Greek gods were no darlings either, especially if you offended them. They used nature to realize their nefarious plans and knew where to find everybody everywhere, just like Russia nowadays. You can fill an entire herbarium with people changed into herby plants or waving trees. Hyacinth once was a very pretty young boy, killed by a jealous god and revived as a beautiful scented flower by Apollo. That same Apollo once chased a nymph, who was changed by her father into a laurel tree in order to escape Apollo's love making. Minth was a nymph in love with Hades, who got changed into that lovely herb by Persephone, Hades' jealous wife.

The gods knew their botany. Circe, daughter of the sungod Helios, was even a specialist in herbs. As Goddess of magic she is considered to be the first witch mentioned in literature. She brewed mean drinks and changed, in combination with her wand, people in animals. According to Homers' Odyssey she lived in a huge palace in the midst of woods, where plenty of tamed lions, tigers and other animals roamed. When Odysseus and his men sailed to her island, she welcomed them in a great way and organized a rich banquet in their honour. Odysseus, tired, remained with a small crew on his boat. The men who continued partying, however, changed into boars, except for one, who hadn’t trusted Circe and run back to Odysseus to warn him. When Odyssey set off to save his men, the god Hermes stopped him to tell that there was a herb that resisted the magic of Circe: moly it was called. So Odysseus chewed on some moly's and without fear of Circe's magic he persuaded her to change his men back into humans. When Circe promised not to harm him with her magic, this Trojan hero stayed for one year at Circe's palace, to party and to love.

According to Homer, the plant moly, that originated from the blood of the giant Picolous, has a snow white flower and a black bottom. Curious as always, science tried to find out what herb Homer was writing about. Scientists do not believe in magic and think that Circe gave the men something that made them hallucinate, thereafter behaving like pigs. The galanthus has a substance (galamantina) that annihilates hallucinations, so it is said that moly is a snowdrop.

These little flowers have properties that matter. Theophrastus long ago mentioned their anti-poison faculty and nowadays those snow white flowers also are used in the battle against Alzheimer’s. Their playful clocks jingle in order to call the spring. However they are not the only ones calling out for this season: the island has just had its yearly transformation into a colourful flower park. In all kinds of colours, anemones giggle on grassy lands, tapestries of daisies stretch lazily under the olive trees, dandelions and other yellow flowers colour the grassy verges of the country roads, along the sea purple-pink gillyflowers open amongst spare grass and stones at the beach and orchids appear in special places.

Last week we went to the chestnut woods above Agiasos. I did not expect lots of flowers in the dark, moist wood, but we were immediately welcomed by masses of alpine squill, like the blue sky did descend on earth. So enchanting! It got even better. A little further on, we were greeted by meadows filled with thousands of snow drops. It looked magical! It was only the second time I have seen these little snow clocks on Lesvos.

I wonder if these delicate flowers (or any other plant) can be used as an antidote for nerve agents. Nature has an answer for mostly everything. The Greek gods knew that: they didn't need complicated formulae or laboratories to punish people and did not leave chemical tracks. They just took what was needed from nature.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018

Monday, 5 March 2018

March 3 – Sigri Harbour

(Sigri Harbour)

A quiet, small village, at the utmost western point of the island, surrounded by rugged impressive mountains, 'at the end of the road', as they say. This is lovely Sigri, a world on its own on Lesvos because it always is cool in the summer due to the wind that seldom lies down.
It is world famous, not for the village but for the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest. The number of petrified trees found in its surroundings made the village known, but never brought masses of tourists, only busses full of day visitors.

Even without the museum this sleepy village should be known by all tourists. Not only for its nice white chalked houses – an exception on Lesvos – but also for its beautiful surroundings, rich with big lonely beaches at the foot of bare mountains. Nowhere on the island can you get a stronger feeling of history and nature being present.

The remains of very old towers show that in ancient times this remote area had been more lively. In the hills excavations prove the existence of ancient settlements and looking at the walls of some houses, you might spot ancient stones, once belonging to glorious buildings. Now there only remains the Turkish castle, built in 1776 by Sultan Mehmet as a defense against pirates and other enemies. When Lesvos still was part of the Ottoman Empire, only Turkish people lived here. Might be a reason why this little village has never been very popular with the Greeks.

On both sides of the village long beaches litter the coast. Like Faneromeni, in the north, with a small tavern for thirsty throats but on its sands quietness reigns. At the south side of the village, along the dirty road to Eressos, more long beaches stretch at the feet of barren mountains. A whimsical coastline with many inlets make those ribbons of sand adventurous places, not easy to reach, but once you have found the way, you may have that whole paradise all to yourself.

Sigri: with its picturesque little roads under bowing reeds, between cool green fields and other fertile grounds, a gem stone hidden behind the fame of the petrified trees. But not for much longer.

The new road from Sigri to Kalloni is no longer frontpage news. Some parts are ready to drive on, or like the last part to Sigri, have already been in use for years. The bridge somewhere between Vatoussa and Andissa finally reached the other side, but for many people it is the question over which mountain tops will the tarmac continue its way. The solution might be drawn somewhere on a map - maybe not. Maybe the many sections of already completed road scattered in the landscape toward Kalloni will never be connected.

Last summer I had a big laugh, when I was told that they would build a new harbour in Sigri in eighteen months. I didn't believe that it was possible in such a short time. They have already worked for years at the road and I am sure that the road will not be finished in that little time. When visiting Sigri last week I had to admit that I could be wrong concerning the harbour. The seaside of the charming village was upside down: the spacious place at the harbour, where ferries used to dock, was filled with cement mills and other machines and a playground with plenty of sandy hills. A bit further out at sea floated a huge platform with a crane whose arm danced from the wall to the sea, in order to place enormous cement blocks in the sea. If they continue at this pace the harbour will certainly be finished in time.

I thought they made the wide new road to build a monstrous wind farm on the tops of the Wild West, but there is suspicious silence around these plans. It is clear now that the harbour is built to take ferries. I took the map and saw that indeed each journey with a ferry, going over Lesvos (except the ferries to Turkey) might be shortened by two hours, if they stop in Sigri, instead of Mytilini. Kalloni, a place where traffic jams can appear, will have to pay with more circulation. Time for a bypass there, but the shopkeepers are too afraid to lose their clients, so it will make the bottlenecks even more disturbing.

Sigri will not become a Pireaus. It might offer a daily event, seeing the docking of a ferry at least as big as the entire village. But Sigri will no longer live under the wings of the Natural History Museum, nor will it any longer be the hidden gem for people who like quietness, although I think the beaches around will not easily be disturbed. It might be that Sigri will be transformed from a quiet fishermen's village to a lively little port town.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018

Sunday, 18 February 2018

February 15 – Valentine's Lesvos

(photo: internet)

In winter time the inhabitants of Lesvos like to barricade themselves behind their front doors, watching television, seldom leaving their place. Since the crisis there is hardly even a dinner party in a restaurant that can succeed in getting them out. Even Christmas is spent indoors and on New Years Eve it’s just youngsters who gather in the empty streets.

The Greek hibernation only gets interrupted when Dionysus rattles the door to wake up the people for the Lent. After a boring winter, frustrations have built up, and it is time to get them ventilated: and for that purpose there are three weeks of Carnival (Apokries). The first week is the week of the annunciation. The second week is dedicated to meat, and is highlighted by Tsikno pempti, the Thursday when they have huge barbeques outside: the smell of grilled meat seems to really get people out of their houses. It is customary to eat as much meat as you can, so that you won't long for meat in the coming 40 days of Lent.

At the end of the third week, the cheese week, the parties finally start. Colourful costumes are dug out from cabinets and bottles stand ready to grease the throat. Since the crisis hardly any procession with carnival floats is to be seen in the streets of the island. Most of the carnival is celebrated in public rooms where too loud music brings people to the floor.

The Olympic Gods didn't have carnival, except for Dionysus, God of wine and dance, who annually at the beginning of spring, celebrated the rebirth of nature. On those days, not called carnival then, the followers disguised themselves as satyrs, others put masks in front of their face while running through the streets, yelling obscene things and going mad. There were also lots of satiric performances in the theatres. When the Church got all the Olympic Gods out of the air, they also wanted to get rid of all those pagan rituals. But nowadays the carnival has grown again into a celebration of Dionysical proportions. In the Greek village of Tyrvanis the whole carnival event is about huge phalluses, just like on Naxos, the birthplace of Dionysos, where secretly they celebrate his birth with symbols of phalluses.

In the Lesvorian mountain village Agiasos they also celebrate big. But here they have more theatre. In the weekend of carnival the streets rustle with people in disguise and little stages, from where they fulminate against all and everything. You could say that the carnival of Agiasos is one big standup comedy festival, where people say whatever bothers them, everything from fights with neighbours to the big conflicts in the world.

As a last spasm of festivity on Clean Monday (Kathari Devtera) the children are sent to the meadows to go kite flying. In nice weather the parents will follow with picnic baskets, but most will end up in the overflowing restaurants, where as meat is forbidden, there is traditionally a run on shellfish and vegetables.

Unexpectedly last week on February 14 another festivity sneaked into the carnival days: Valentines Day. Maybe more modest than a Dionysus party, but on the program was a contest to write the best erotic letter, song or poem. Not many people know that Lesvos is the island of the Holy Valentine. The catholic church on Ermou (main street of Mytilini) harbors an important relic of this now popular saint. “Surprise your friends with a present”, is the slogan of this commercial day. The Greeks have picked this up, although not yet as badly as in other countries where around February 14 you stumble upon hearts and other romantic rubbish.

The capital this year decided to celebrate big because the church restoration has just finished and the relic, that stayed in Athens for a while, is back home. Besides a concert and some poem readings, the holy remains of Valentine were brought into the fresh air in a real procession full of catholic priests – coming from Greece, Europe and including a special representative from the Pope. That must have been a show because it is not often that you see a procession with priests who are not orthodox, in other words those having maybe a tiny beard but not buried in their overgrown beards.

The Tourist Union of Lesvos should publicize this pilgrim location. Besides Christmas and Carnival Valentines Day is the most commercial day of the winter in Europe and America. A romantic trip to Lesvos would be a great Valentine gift, especially when you can encounter part of his remains. To stumble by accident upon a carnival festivity with Dionysic features, can be a high light for a romantic holiday on the island. Let us have Valentine join in the carnival festivities and highlight that Lesvos is the island where Dionysos – hand in hand with Valentine – honours love, friendship and spring.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018

Sunday, 4 February 2018

February 2 – Who the hell is Chimonas?

(An anemone in the snow)

On many winter days, this cold, wet season in Greece (chimonas) is difficult to recognize: temperatures try regularly to reach summer values and when the first rains inundate the earth, lots of plants hurry to start growing and some to flower even before winter officially begins.

Long long ago there was no winter in Greece. When this world was run by the Olympic gods, there was a bunch of goddaughters, the Horae, who were responsible for the seasons, the hours of the day and the gate to Olympus. According to Pausanias, three of these Horae took care of the seasons: Thallo, Karpo and Auxo. According to others there was also another trio: Eunomia, Dike and Irene. Not to complicate matters I will tell about the three from Pausanias. As I imagine it, these young ladies played in juicy green meadows when Thallo had the plants grow (anixi = spring), jumped into the waves when Karpo warmed up the sea (kalo kairi = summer) and ate their bellies full when Auxo came up with abundant harvests (ftinoporo = autumn). Chione, daughter of the cold north wind Boreas, befriended them and sometimes sprinkled some snow. Then Boreas – under the name of Kheimon – claimed a season for his snow queen: and since then Greece has had four seasons. That Kheimon's claim was wrong, is proven by many a Greek winter in which autumn and spring embraces each other seamlessly. That’s maybe why the Greeks say that winter only starts in February and makes way for spring in March, leaving not too much time for Kheimon to bully the island with icy roads and wind.

It is fascinating to discover how many mini climates exists on Lesvos. In the mountains it’s always colder, Kalloni and its central plains record in summer the highest and in winter the lowest temperatures. Especially in spring, autumn and winter Plomari enjoys a certain southern warmth; the mountain village of Agiasos at least once a year gets covered by a blanket of snow, in the west Sigri has a moderate climate and is seldom without wind, in the north Eftalou (not far from Molyvos) is summer and winter cool and Mytilini goes with the flow.

They say most rain is dumped around the Gulf of Yera. However, some years’ ago after heavy rainfall, disastrous mud streams flowed through the streets of Agiasos and villages like Akrasi, Ambeliko and Stavros also had roads completely destroyed. Kalloni regularly gets flooded through not cleaning its rivers and this year it was Eresos and Andissa (and surroundings) that had to report lots of damage due to too much water.

These past months it has been particularly wet, making many rivers – in the summer only recognizable by their dry beds – stream merrily and block paths and roads (most of them you can wade through). Boreas only last week came to visit with icy wind, leaving his daughter home. When he was fed up with blowing, the almond trees, so happy with all that water, carefully started to unfold their pink blossom. Shame upon the ones who may now irritate Boreas: then we can forget about the almonds, just like last year, when Chione – who knows - celebrated a special birthday with lots of snow, killing the almond blossoms.

At some moment the Horae and Kheimon were brought down by Demeter, who had a better plan for the seasons. She lost her daughter Persephone to Hades, king of the underworld and Persephone had permission to visit her only once a year. That was the summer. When Demeter started looking forwards to her daughter’s visit, she made everything grow (spring) and from the moment Persephone left, she wept oceans of tears and all the plants died (autumn). In the winter she sat uselessly next to the stove, even though outside there was lots to do: harvesting olives, mushrooms, citrus fruit and loads of wild vegetables. So her story about seasons is not quite right: not everything died. Moreover, January traditionally also has some summer days: during the Alcyonides days (one to two weeks) you can easily do without winter clothes, while the kingfishers make love and build their nests. I bet Demeter then skypes with Persephone, a little revival for her sad heart. But she does not act consistently: last January we waited in vain for this lovely weather phenomenon.

If I were to run the world, I’d have Demeter laid-off in order to bring back the three Horae and I have Boreas with his Kheimon pseudonym banned to Hades. Three seasons give much less confusion to the island and it will be the best publicity for winter tourism: where the winter has been thrown out. Listening to the birds and looking at all the flowers now, they all agree: it is early spring, not winter.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018

Thursday, 18 January 2018

January 16 – The Sparrow Bush

(A sparrow bush, lycium europaeum)

When the ice-cold wind blasts from the north and threatens with polar bears on the road, the lee of a sparrow bush is a perfect place to adjust your breathing and estimate if the damns of heaven will or will not open soon. It is a fine place to blow your nose or drag the zipper of your jacket up to under your chin, because in the winter it’s always is colder at the seaside than you think.

The sparrow bush is an unsightly, thorny, winter green bush, that grows along the beach, towering at least two meters over the road, offering shelter. It’s so ugly that each time the municipal men come in spring to take away the useless branches of the shadow-offering tamarisks, I am afraid that they will think the sparrow tree is a worthless one too and cut it down. Last year indeed they pruned the bush a bit too enthusiastically and I was afraid that the bare sparrow bush would not survive.

But it has proved to be a tough bush, that resists sea water, snow, some ice and especially that freaky cold north wind, as well as an extravagant pruning session. This winter it came back in all its glory and along with it - the return of its inhabitants. This is not an empty bush: in the cold season it houses a gang of lively sparrows.

I am not a birdwatcher, so forgive me if they are in fact buntings or some other sparrow look-alikes. How can anyone ever distinguish all those birds? I take it that they are not house-sparrows, because they live in that bush. Therefore they might be tree sparrows. Those little creatures do move all the time; they waggle, twitter and tweet all day long in the sparrow bush. When you want to photograph them, they disappear between the leaves deep into the tree and the only thing that remains is an angry rustling. They then keep very quiet, even if you wait a bit, in the hope that suddenly one will peep out from between the leaves to properly introduce himself: “Hello, I am Pete the Tree Sparrow”.

I was more lucky in determining what the bush is. It probably is a Lycium europaeum, also known as a box-thorn, wolfberry or tea tree. Tea? Yes. The leaves are good for infusions that may help poor eye-sight and other eye diseases and even help to prevent cancer. It is a healing sparrow bush. According to Wikipedia, there also should appear berries, in China named goji berries: much hyped as weight reducers. They’re not only good for slimming; the Chinese also think they might help you to live longer.

But I cannot remember ever having seen those little weight-loss berries between the leaves. I have noticed tiny, dirty white flowers, that, according to Wikipedia, flower in the summer. Although the ones in my sparrow bush appear in autumn and winter.

There may well exist a winter-flowering box-thorn without goji. I mean, this family has about 70 to 80 varieties. Pliny the Elder (23-79), a Roman botanist, who wrote one of the oldest surviving encyclopedia (Naturalis Historia) named the sparrow bush after Lycia, a region in what is now Turkey. But much earlier the Greek Theophrastus (371-287 BC) had already noted this goji bush in his books, mentioning that they produced excellent wood fire.

Sparrows have an extra bone in their mouth to eat (berries with) seed. Because they hang out day and night in those box-thorn bushes, I’m wondering if it’s because the sparrows are so mad for those goji berries, that before I have a chance to see one, they’ve already been consumed. In China the goji also helps to fight impotence in men: I figure that those little rascals might also use them for this purpose because the sparrow population diminishes with the hour. Our houses nowadays are built so solid and so compact, not leaving any space for the house sparrows to nest and this – I imagine – might be so frustrating that some of them become impotent. Tree sparrows find their numbers declining because they seek food in the chemically treated fields. This can also cause impotence and there’s certainly not enough goji berry-eating ever to combat that problem.

Those small discrete sparrows are protected by the goddess of love: Aphrodite. They are known because for their busy sex life. The, to a human, impenetrable goji bush offers a unique opportunity. When you shelter from the icy north wind in the lee of such a bush, you may hear excited rustling and movement from deep within the bush. It could be that you are sheltering beside a popular sex-club.

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2018