Summer on Poros

By Fay Orfanidou (Featured image by Savvas Marotos)

This summer on Poros is different. TV channels and newspapers are focusing on it. But not on its beauty, food, pine-trees that reach down to the sea. Not on its quaint backstreets and the little islands dotting the sea outside its canal. Nor on Lemonodasos, Villa Galini, the writers and painters that it has inspired. This summer on Poros is a big wound for the locals. One that we don’t know when will be healed.

I, however, don’t want to talk about these things. I want to talk about the things that are not mentioned by the TV channels and the newspapers. About the summer on Poros of my childhood, adolescence, as well as adulthood. I want to talk about the Poros you also know. With its small boats that connect it in one minute with the Peloponnese. Its lush pine-forest. Its Burgi, Russian Bay, Stavros church, Monastery, Temple of Poseidon, Sleeping Lady.

Child in Pounta

When I was a child, I used to spend my summers in Pounta, at the old olive-press of my grandpa Spyros Vettas, with my other grandparents, Maritsa and Christos, refugees from Cyprus. In the morning, Yorgoulis with with small boat was making a stop in front of our house, on his way to the little island of Deimezi, as we used to call it, of Karras, as I learnt it later on. Just “Nisaki”, for simplest. Summer on Poros for me as a child was endless. As are always the summers of our childhood. I made friends from all over the world; I still remember Achilleas from France, whose mother loved Greece, hence his name. Don’t ask which language we communicated in; I have no idea.

We used to ride our bicycles and play football on the seaside road until late. We became pitch black from the sun and salt-cured from the sea. Summer on Poros of my childhood was full of light. Like the blinding light when we were returning at noon from the sea in dad’s boat, “Yiola”, in honor of my mother. First wooden, then plastic, always “Yiola”…

Child in Lemonodasos

We always used to come to Lemonodasos and go up to my grandma Froso’s house with the donkeys from Plaka. We had our own donkey, too, Loulouka. We thought she was ages old, because grandma hid from us that it was a series of identical donkeys, dark grey with a vertical line on the back. She wanted to protect us from an untimely experience of death. Many times, we used to take the path higher, to Kardasis taverna, for a lemonade and an omelet. If, on the way back, night had caught up with us and there was a moon, we didn’t use the flashlight. The songs that we were singing all together as a family kept us company. At Artimos is where I learnt how to swim. At this beach, that changes faces by the dozen every day, but at its best it’s like the blue lagoon of the homonymous movie of that time.

Youth on Poros

In late adolescence, I brought my friends to my Poros house for the first time. At noon, when we woke up, we used to go with the public boats to Askeli, Neorion, and of course the beautiful Love Bay, where we stayed until late. In the evening, we were going for dinner to “Sotiris” taverna, then for a drink at “Sail”, and then we went on foot round the corner of the back road to “Sirocco”. Companies of friends were passing in front of the houses of the family people, who tried to sleep, and annoyed them with their laughter and shouting. The poor people were scolding and threatening them. We didn’t have to deal with coronaviruses and masks. We were not obliged to bear the individual responsibility for our grandparents’ health. Our generation was lucky…

Coming of age

Growing up even more, I started to recognize Poros as a source of inspiration and realize how lucky I was that it was part of my inheritance. So many authors, painters, musicians have been inspired by the tranquility that fills you in the summer on Poros. Seferis, Miller, Politis, Parthenis, Embirikos… The musician of rembetiko Dimitris Gogos, aka Bayanderas, was from Poros. The actresses Elli Lambeti and Maro Kontou have smelled the blossomed lemon trees in Lemonodasos. Uncountable known and unknown people have loved summer on Poros so much, that they decided to make it their home.

Summer on Poros, having changed a lot in some aspects, has remained the same in many others. You also know this summer. Poros will be here to offer it to you again and again. So that this wound is closed. So that, once again, the scent of pine and lemon blossom fill our memories.

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