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Ionian Awakening

The night had been one of terrible fury. Zeus had hurtled his thunderbolts across the cosmos and pierced the dark, deep waters of the Ionian, in a frenzy of earth shattering thunder. The world heaved. The towering anvil - shaped clouds were caught in an intermittent grasp of blinding blue light.
But as the mighty God's anger subsided there hung a quiet, cool dampness above the waters and the earth. The darkness gave way to a watery greyness, and then gradually to a warmer whiteness, with a pale hint of blue finally taking precedence.
The straits are frowned upon by the mountainous terrain of Ithaca to the east and Cephalonia to the west. The ruins of wind mills from older times line the mountain ridges to each side, and the slopes are abundant with a spread of olive groves. In the more sheltered bays, these reach down and almost touch the foaming shore line.
As the sun breaks its bonds with the now glowing line of the eastern horizon it climbs its way slowly but effortlessly through the firmament. A rosy hued glow covers the rocky slopes of Ithaca and casts a wine dark shadow across the seas.
The early morning eagle is observed to the south.
On the northern tip of Cephalonia by the entrance to the village of Fiscardo and its safe anchorage, two lighthouses, one Venetian and long extinguished, the other English and still signalling the way, stand together by the ancient Norman abbey ruins.
Two early swimmers slide silently around the headland and keep a careful eye on the sharp rocks. There is a heavy swell from last night's storm and on the exposed Odyssian shores of Ithaca, just four miles away, the crashing plumes of white claw the craggy cliff face.
The village is awakening. The clatter of green and blue and white window-shutters being thrown open to the fragrant freshness of a new dawn, fills the alleyways.
The air is already heavy with the scent of jasmine blossom. The bakery with its canopy of bougainvillaea, has been busy for many hours and the first customers will soon be sauntering in with their Kalimeras and Yasoos, and stories of the day. Spiro has died, Rodomanthi is getting married, Dimitra has just given birth to twins, Maki's son is back from his sea voyages, Dimitri's son is leaving for Athens to study medicine. Gregori, Herodotus' son has just acquired a new fishing boat - where did he get the money from? - and poor old Dolly is getting worse by the hour. Such is the early morning sound of that ancient and wise village square.
The small white church dedicated to Panaghia, and situated on a little hill overlooking the recently unearthed Roman burial site, is receiving an early morning sweeping from Rodomanthi's mother and aunts. This is in preparation for the wedding to be celebrated that very day when Rodomanthi, an olive eyed beauty, a veritable Aphrodite, who comports herself with the dignity of that great daughter of Zeus, is to be married to Gregori, her childhood sweetheart. She is twenty three, as is Gregori.
Rodomanthi has a small jewellery shop specialising in silver and lapis lazuli and is doing quite well from passing tourists, and Gregori will eventually take over Herodotus's restaurant, and in the meantime fish and harvest his own olive groves, like a true island hero of old.
"Vasili, be careful now, I don't want you to go out too far, apart from that heaving swell there may well be jellyfish blown in on last night's storm."
Herodotus knows that Vasili is more frightened by the lesser threat of being stung than he is by the real danger- the sea.
Herodotus has made all of the preparations for today's wedding feast, and only the last minute final cooking will need to be done. He of course will be attending his son's wedding, but insists on working throughout the gathering.
He will offer up the very best, in a way that all the village agrees only he can do. Vasili, his daughter's six year old son, likes to dabble in the water by the village beach and this has become a welcome morning ritual in Herodotus' otherwise hard working life. Herodotus is sixty eight and is in many ways considered the village patriarch. He is noted for his honesty more than for his wealth, of which he has little. He is happy and has the sublime gift of being able to make others happy also.
Beyond the village boundary the air is loud with the honey bee and the gentle chiming of goat-bells, as Nicholas tends his herd. They make their way through the cypress groves to their grazing pastures overlooking the now deep blue sea.
All is well with the world.

Patrick Hahessy

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