Sleeping in my earthquake pants, dreaming in the olive groves

My Earthquake Pants are what I wear to bed, they are old, saggy and rather worn pj’s but they are capacious and comfy for someone who throws herself around a lot in her sleep and wriggles and worms across the whole of a kingsize bed. My Earthquake Pants replace my Hurricane Pants from Mexico and my Force Ten Pants from my stormy home in Wales where the roof may blow off in a particularly stiff northerly!

I have this irrational fear of needing to rush outside in an emergency in the middle of the night and being caught totally naked. Topless is of course fine if a passing camera crew should happen to be covering the emergency for 24 hour news, but “ain’t nobody seeing my lady town”, as a patient in Grey’s Anatomy rather fetchingly said in a recent episode, on national television. So should the worst ever happen I can be rescued with a degree of modesty and only the best bits on display.

It seems I can sleep easier though as the earth tremors we have been having here appear to be tailing off. They have gone from three of four a day to one every few days so the faults have stopped stirring in their own sleep. Our baby tremors would make the residents of California and Japan snigger in the same way that residents of Stockholm sneer at London gridlocked by a snow shower, but to us expats who hadn’t felt so much as a shudder for years and years they were worth chattering about.

I did get some comments from friends in the UK about mentioning our earthquake. Apparently, as my house is for sale (total bargain, exceptional stone house, idyllic etc), I shouldn’t mention that we are in an earthquake zone. As the 65 million residents of Turkey all know they live in an earthquake zone and anyone with a passing knowledge of geography knows too I think this particular secret is well and truly out of the bag!

Also, if when showing the house I highlighted the very expensive, super reinforced c25 earthquake frame that we incorporated into the 50cm thick stone walls and which is above and beyond the already stringent building regs (again, yes, we do have them here!) then went on to try and pretend that we don’t actually have quakes I would look a total prat. And I’d be lying. And I’d not be helping people make informed choices. And that’s wrong.

Moving on to prettier things than me in my earthquake pants. The olive harvest is in full swing and across the whole region the Zeytinyagi that process the olives have thrown open their doors, cleaned out their storage bins and dragged the mighty crushing stones into play again. The harvest is piecemeal here in the valley as different trees are ready at different times and the harvest will go on for the next couple of months.

Nick and I took a stroll the other morning to see how it was progressing. At the far end of the valley we found a grove of trees where the the trees were thick and heavy with fat purple olives. A dolmus was parked in the grove and the owner and his wife and children were industriously bagging the windfalls first before moving on to the fruit still on the tree.

We walked up through the grove and ate our lunch at the top of a scree high above the trees. The wind tossed the leaves of the olives and they flashed silver in the sunlight. A pale yellow fig tree glowed gold in autumn colours and I wondered how many goat herders and shepherds and olive gatherers had sat here and dreamed away a quiet hour.

I grew up on the tales of the gods and men, of the myths and legends of the Olympian family and the mighty heroes of the ancient world. When I sit in the olive groves I see the birthplace of the myths. I can see a sheep herder could sit here and dream of glory and invent stories of golden apples and beautiful goddesses vying for his judgement. In the flash of light from the flutter of a golden fig leaf a boy could see a fleece dripping gold for a hero to find. In the quiet loneliness of the hills day dreams of love could make a boy believe he would travel to Hades itself for a beautiful girl. It is easy to dream here, in the silence amongst the olive groves. It is easy to believe that gods once walked here.

On the long walk back to the village we found a patch of strawberry trees beside the track. The fruit is briefly on sale in the markets at this time of year and it has a strange taste. Highly prized as an anti oxidant and rich in minerals it is very expensive in the cities but here it grows wild. The fruit ripening from lime green to pale yellow to vibrant orange makes the trees look like they are decorated with Christmas baubles. We left them for the birds to feast on, whilst I like them I’d rather the birds spread the seeds and more grew as they are so pretty at this time of year.