Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Orange and Green

9am Sunday morning found me walking alongside Attikoulamou on Kodrou street. I came upon a wide canvas of Attica blue tracing the roofline of the Aghia Soteira church, framed by a stretch of dark cypress trees and a sprawl of jasmine. From inside, you could hear the brothers singing, an organ accompanying, and one priest reciting his prayers out loud. Two suitcases clattered down the cobblestone and the road of seemingly distant Syngrou Avenue purred with morning drivers.

If only I had a recorder to share with you moments like this. THIS is music.

I promised to finish off reporting the loveliest of days by detailing my visit to the Orange and Green. G and I were walking one day, a dog day let's call it, for my heart was dragging along behind me like a tired dog, and I said out loud, "I think I would like an ice cream."
"Why didn't you say something earlier? We were on Makrigiannis street with all of the ice cream places."
"Well here is ice cream," I said, pointing to the inside of a cafe with orange and green chairs where there was a beautiful case of billowing clouds of gelato, every color in a box of crayons.

In fact it was this day. You see the power it had.

Well now that I was having a cat day, because my heart was literally purring, I decided it was also a nice time for an ice cream. Only natural to return to the place with the orange and green chairs, which I later found out bestows the appellation, "Orange and Green." I was just rolling up to a nice place to stop when I heard my name called out loud.

Funny the affect that can have on a person, hearing their name when they don't expect it. Instantly pulls you to the present, doesn't it?

Kostas and Despina, the owners of the order out only restauraunt Melilotos were there with their two little girls, sitting at a sidewalk table with four huge dishes of various ice creams. I met them but a month ago and together we've been scheming about starting a Greek cooking course to offer to visitors and locals alike.This is the second time I've run into them by "accident."

"Why don't you sit? Have something?"
Well as luck would have it...

Kostas and Despina were still spooning away a la John Henry at their mountains, but the two bowls on the adjacent side were melting into molten, rainbow sprinkled soup.

In true little girl form, the participants ignoring their bowls and more interested in the pink butterfly balloon attached to a pink stroller had more on their sleeves and cheeks than what was likely in their little pot bellies. G came along and joined us a bit later. His aura must have been pink also because the little girls flew to him like mice to the pied piper.

 My ice cream companions are what I don't hesitate to call quality folk. You know it by their restaurant, started out of frustration with being bossed around by penny pinching managers to compromise the quality of food with cheap ingredients. They've chosen to keep their kitchen "take out" only so that they can stay focused on their product, working only monday through Friday so they might stay focused on their blooming family. This day, being a Saturday, had been spent at a food forum in the arty area of Gazi where they had strolled (pinkly) through various tables of food vendors and gathered some information about other cooking classes being offered elsewhere in Athens.

Despina, who is a glassy lake regardless of whether she is detailing the flavors of ice cream that she chose, chasing after her street-magnetized two year old, or criticizing her fellow restaurateurs, spoke very plainly about the competition:

"These people are charging fifty to two hundred and fifty euros for a two hour class. They do not care about food, and I hate that. They only care about making money and staying a big name. I only want to work with people who love what they do."

Like they do!

 While we talked about the relevant, I was inwardly singing sweet love songs  my bowl of chocolate orange ice cream. Kostas must have intuitively guessed it, for the subject turned to ice cream and he happily consented that Americans do it very, very well. We discussed Ben and Jerry and how it was better before it became a giant franchise, continuing the theme of the belief of staying small, controlling quality, doing what you love and not doing it to become an empire. Village life. Oh Ben and Jerry, why couldn't you have been content with Virgina?

When the conversation turned to books and Despina and I raved about the genre of Magical realism.

"I feel that this kind of book is the way I am," and I agreed.
"Somewhere between dream and reality," and our discussion, evolving into dreams, omens, and creative coincidences, was also rainbow sprinkled with events; one parent or the other, sometimes both, breaking out of their chairs and running after one child or the other, to the bathroom, pulling off a chocolated t shirt..
Until finally one got so close to the street that the fire of motherly instinct took over the otherwise composed Despina. The lioness bounded after the endangered cub, snatched her up and scolded her to such a degree it sent the little one into a fit of wails.

She was put into the pink stroller for a mandatory nap.

Shortly after we lost G to the world of their big one, a four year old who had discovered the limitless potential of clean backs of airport signs and a parcel marker. He, being purveyor of both along with fountains of complements on her creations, had unwittingly become her new best friend.

The sidewalk was now quiet. More intimate. The story of how Despina and Kostas met was shared. As it's their story and very special, I feel wrong about putting it here without having permission, but we branched off to couples, drawings of couples, and how a therapist in Greece diagnoses the relationships of these couples by their drawings.

Apparently women tend to draw their relationship, themselves with their mate in a twisted embrace and men draw the picture with both people standing and looking away from each other. These are both indications of a poor relationship.

"The only drawing of a good relationship has the man and woman standing side by side, joined only at the hand."

Each person is supposed to have their space but there is also connection.

"Have you ever done the Hut trick?" said Despina suddenly.
I informed her that not only had I not done any trick of the sort but I didn't know there were tricks to be done with huts.

She pulled G out of drawing pie faced, body-less girls with legs like skyscrapers and informed him that he must help her by translating.
"If I stumble on a word it will break your concentration..."
So the big one was asked to be quiet for just a moment while Despina told a story to Paige. The expression on her face showed she was thinking long and hard about whether or not this held any real significance to her, but finally she agreed to try.

"Close your eyes!" Despina commanded.

Then she whispered her instructions in quiet Greek to G who spoke them to me in English, asking me to imagine a scene, detail what I saw, what I did, where I was...

My request, Mr Fellow One hundred dayer, Mr. OHD,  and anyone else who chooses to, is to stop reading at this point. Print it out and have someone read the next few lines to you. Mr. OHD, I ask especially that you include your answers in your next post, because only then can I tell you what it all means.

Here it goes. Close your eyes!

Imagine you're on a mountain path. Where is the path? What is it like, what is it made of?

The path leads you through some trees. What do the trees look like?

Past the trees you see an open field, and in the open field there is a hut. What is the hut made of? What does the area around the hut look like?

The door of the hut is closed. What do you do?

(If you go inside, what does the inside look like? Is there anything in there? Is it clean or dirty?)

Now go to the other side of the hut. There is a tall wall blocking you from going further. A bear is coming toward you.

What happens? How do you feel? What do you do?

And finally, you face the wall. There are no stairs, no windows, no doors. What do you do?