I sit here with the cat attempting to climb onto the keyboard, the spring sunlight is bright warm yellow, sliding through the windows, patching the tiles with squares of light that the dogs take turns to bask in. Nick is cleaning the pool and we had poached eggs for breakfast! It all seems so very normal. But is it really? What is Kirazli really like? What is it like to live here and have time to notice the little things?
From the start Kirazli reminded me of the writer Laurie Lee’s home village in Gloucestershire as he described it in Cider with Rosie; there is the same acceptance of eccentricity, down to earth common sense, wild flights of stupidity and general air of “getting on with stuff” against a beautifully bucolic background.
The village absorbs eccentricities, it isn’t sentimental, it isn’t rose tinted, it works hard, takes it’s ease where it can, accepts the things it cannot change, worries about the things that matter.
This is village life:-
My neighbour Yusaf, when in disgrace, is banished to the mountain by his wife, a small but steely woman who in full flight has a voice that reaches a pitch only dogs can hear. Nick often finds him sitting in a remote glade on the mountain side, sipping cay, smoking his thin cigarettes and looking at the view. As punishments go it’s not that bad.
Every year a new black goat kid is born to the family who live by the winter tea shop. They tether it outside when it is old enough and it snacks on leafy branches cut from the verges of the forest. Last year’s kid was comically inquisitive. It would jump on the bonnet of my car if I slowed down at the junction and with little hooves skidding on the paintwork would peer in at me, bright eyed, triangular head to one side, lop ears flapping. The man from the small shop that manages to survive against Tunc’s mighty mercantile empire would laugh and come over and lift the goat off the bonnet.
Lokum, turkish delight, wrapped in tissue is the gift of celebration. The daughter of one of the neighbouring families brought us some the other afternoon and showed off her engagement ring, a wide white gold band. The lokum was thick with icing sugar, the squishy squares translucent and palest rose with hints of diamond white. She was so very, very happy. So excited, so much in love. So much for the misery of Turkish women!
In winter they play with fire, in summer they play with water. When they trim the grapevines and prune the olive trees the smoke from tens of small domed fires send smoke signals around the valley and on cold still days the smoke hangs low, wreathing among the olive groves and creeping through the pine trees.
In summer they water the dust. Outside the tea shop and the kofte shop, outside the bakers and Tunc’s market hosepipes are expertly wielded by cigarette smoking men, doing their bit to keep the village tidy – actually just playing with the water, but it makes them look busy to their wives.
There was a sad man called Mike, no one knew his real name, or never used it, but he drank too much and whilst he smiled a lot the villagers say he was “brought low by a woman.” He came from a good family and once had a good job in town and then he had his heart broken and took to drink. In the summer he would sleep under the romorks that are parked in the street and in winter he would sleep in the old barns that dot the valley. When there was work available the village men would find him, clean him up and set him to work and he worked hard. He used to brick for me and he was fast and good and friendly. But you paid his wages to the village men and they dolled it out to him as necessary. One day he failed to turn up for work and Sezai went looking for him, finding him drunk and stumbling in the main street. Sezai broke a switch from the fig tree in the market square and chased poor Mike with it, up and down the main street until he sobered up. Then he bought him cay and made him eat bread and then brought him to work.
We had a village maniac. A bearded, bedraggled hermit of a man, short and squat and dressed in rags. He used to stand on a rocky outcrop at the top of the mountain pass and jump up and down waving his arms in the air and screaming terrible threats when a car went past. When he came into the village he would seek out the Iman and then follow him down the streets, capering like a monkey and shouting awful insults at Allah. The Iman would ignore him and keep walking with great dignity. The maniac had been a soldier in Cyprus in ’72 Sezai told me one day, shaking his head sadly, he had seen terrible things and it drove him mad. I haven’t seen him for a year or so now, and I wonder where he went.
This morning Nick broke an egg at the village shop, as Yacob and Tunc pondered how to get rid of the sticky mess Nick summoned Shadow from outside where she was waiting patiently. She came inside the shop, wolfed down the broken egg and licked the floor clean causing mass hilarity in all present. People were coming from the teashop next door to photograph this amazing dog with their phones. She’s probably on You Tube now, going viral.
These are some of the scenes from village life, small dramas, little laughs, finding fun where it can. Come and see it, it’s worth the journey.