By the Gulf of Corinth, I sat down and wept. Delphi was just out of sight across the water. The water was the improbable aqua/azure blue of the Mediterranean. At night phosphorescence glowed on the waves. Above the pine-clad mountains rose steeply. The air was fragrant with mint and oregano. The sky was perpetually cloudless and the sun baked the earth. When you couldn’t bear the heat, you cooled off in the warm waters of the gulf. Out of the same water came the little fish you ate for breakfast.
All of this I saw through swollen eyes. I felt as if my life had ended with my family. All three of them were still alive, but lost to me.
There was a lot of ironing to be done there. It was Camping Krioneri,where sheets were provided, so my hostess set me to the task. I cried and ironed. I ironed and cried.
One day, fire swept down the mountain. The big bellied planes dipped water from the gulf and dropped it above us. As the day passed the planes came and went and everyone got red-eyed like me.
Many years ago.
I find myself once again in pine mountains under the hot summer sun – no rivers of Babylon here, only the small pond where the coots and ducks and red winged blackbirds rule. Every window presents beauty: towering Jeffrey pines, quacking aspens, steeply climbing green-clad slopes, a distant alpine meadow tawny in the drought. The air redolent of pine, cedar, acrid poplar, sage. Whereas the Greek village was white or bright with colour, little brick runnels of spring water coursing down beside the road, this village is log-cabined or soft green and yellow, the colours actually mandated. The people do not stand in the mid-day sun and shout in Greek about politics. They smile and greet you. They even stop to talk.
Kind of them. But meanwhile … we are struggling with a problem that feels intransigent. We move one step forward and then seem to slide two steps back. You can tell yourself that this is the nature of healing, but it is hard to remember that when you wake up brokenhearted and see such sights outside your window.
Can the eyes of grief bear the gift of beauty?