So, it snowed in Athens again! I've been here since the end of 2011, and the first time it snowed 'properly' was last winter. Don't get me wrong, it often snows in Greece ... just not here in Athens. Then, Storm Elpis hit us at the beginning of last week. Where we live, on the western edge of the city, things weren't too bad. Our council salted the main roads and we didn't lose power even for five minutes. But in other parts of the city, the damage was severe. Roads were impassable, trees were down, and some areas had no power for days.
It is bitterly cold here (for Athens!) and I’ve covered up my pot plants to protect them from the frost. The lowering grey clouds may look bleak but down on the ground, the plant life is far from dead.
A lot of plants are dying off or back in autumn, but you can plant stuff too! A couple of weeks ago, my girls and I got busy on the balcony, planting some bulbs in pots. We've got iris, hyacinth and crocus. I haven't planted bulbs since I was a kid, and I'm excited for them to come up!
All my life I have lived near water. I grew up less than 10 minutes’ walk from the bank of the River Thames in England. For five years, I lived on the west coast of Wales. Then, in my mid-twenties, I lived back in England, two minutes’ walk from a lake. Now, I live in Athens … but not in Athens, on the edge of Athens - and that makes all the difference.
In spring, two of my daughters planted some basil seed. I wasn’t optimistic. First, the seeds were from a kids’ mini-greenhouse kit from a toy shop. Second, I have tried to grow basil from seed before - and failed. Well, I should have had a bit more faith, because that basil sprouted ...
There are two things I can harvest from the olive tree in our garden - olives and leaves. This year is my first time working with either, although I have been a fan of eating olives for most of my life!
Olives, the olive branch and the olive tree are symbolic in many cultures and religions, from ancient Egypt to Christianity to the Arab world. In ancient Greece, newborn babies were presented with an olive branch, brides wore a crown of olive leaves, and olive wreaths were given to the dead. It was illegal to cause damage to an olive tree in ancient Greece - a crime that was actually punishable by death at one point! The olive tree was also sacred to Athena and had a special place in the myth of the founding of Athens, the city I live in.