Here we are two icon painters on Ikaria Island. It has been an inspiration to us both. Our Second Island selection is Ikaria…. Yes, the place where icon painters have been inspired to paint the famous Icaras scene, where the famous Icaras flew towards the sun and melted his wings.
Arriving on the island, we lost any pride we had in thinking we could have it our way. Valentin and I thought it would be hot, it is not. But man, is it windy. It can blow your clothes off and clear every thought from your mind. The warm wild wind combined with all-day noisy cicadas is hypnotic. Wind changes velocity constantly because of a wall, a mountain slope, time of day, sunshine or when the color of the deep dark Mediterranean water darkens.
The cold depth of the sea around Ikaria is exhilarating. You swim along and find hot spots of warm volcanic waters. It is magnificently interesting and a bit scary. A mountain ridge runs the length of the island for 30 miles in steep rugged beauty. We eat sesame butter and honey for breakfast with mountain tea. There are very few boats in and out of here, every few days. Short schedule for buses around the island, one a day, if is working. We got stranded one day to find a sign by the bus stop that read; The Bus Is Broken Today.
The house and yard where we are cooking and sleeping.
= It is a blue zone, one of the largest concentration of people living to be over 100 in the world.
Two Icon Painters on Ikaria Live Among Ancient People
Ancient people here live in beautiful run down Phoenician style houses. The families and descendants divide up the homes. The siblings share the home. Each kid takes the floor and renovates it or builds on top of the old abandoned ground floor. At night, the square is full of locals having coffee or beer. Children run around screaming “Pappoo” (grandfather). Not many tourists. Aging is everywhere; folks have time to chat just sitting around. When it is time they help each other up or hold each other as they walk. Some use a cane to go up hills and stairs. Ikaria is Aging without Change. Very romantic, always slow,slow, slow.
Icon Painters on Ikaria Have Morning Conversation With The Locals
Valentin and I have plenty of history, knowledge, memories, and insights to draw from. Grateful for everything and any plan. At the same time, we have become like idiots. Even if we think we know, quick awareness tells us we don’t. Valentin and I were talking today about the aging process and how our minds are getting older. He made one of his perfect English slips by saying;
“You and I are in a time of “Dis-Knowing”.
I just loved it. It is a perfect anecdote for us icon painters sitting around here on Ikaria island. Choosing to visit Greece for five months took some organizing, money, and courage. We have had to face not knowing or understanding. We say we enjoy putting ourselves in situations of learning or waiting to see what gets revealed. Foreign cultures, customs and not speaking the language keep it interesting. My general failure to read directions or pay attention to details adds to the experience. Thank God for laughter.
Nothing can stop us from wondering as we go about Ikaria. Like the guy on a ladder is going where? Or that giant tire at the beach left because? We walked past that giant black thing 3 times before I said, “Hay; I did not notice that before”. Yes, you can add oblivion to the aging process.
Valentin thinks he speaks enough Greek to verbalize an introduction or question, but he cannot understand any of the responses. He comes back proudly informed to tell me the restaurant is in the white building in the center of town. All the buildings are white!
I bought ferry tickets that leave at 6 in the afternoon instead of 6 in the morning because 6:00 AM is really 18:00 PM. Military time, regular time, the herb named thyme, and why not add Kronos the King of the Titanes? He is the Greek God of Time. We missed the boat because of time! We have fallen into a multidimensional quality of aging and realize we are getting stupid. We bumble along and wrong a lot.
Never too Old for This
Here are these two icon painters and while we are on the island of Ikaria we can see things other people can’t. For example, here are these photos are from a few moments of pause and delight. Slowing down to observe, witness, and to just smile is enough. Beaches have big stones, (no pebbles or sand). Old ladies and men in bikinis meander carefully down to the shoreline. No beautiful asses here but I am growing to love wrinkled skin. Who can understand anything anymore? Flabbergasted and laughing at this plate. What artist’s mind turned up this one?
In general, after one week we fit just fine in what feels like a remote and forgotten island jewel from the past. Why question?
Valentin is in the Giant Little Museum, looking at a dovecote model. A few days later, he stands by one on the road and is stumped. Dovecote houses are used to feed doves to get them to poop in the space, collecting the poop for fertilizer. Valentin asks me, why would Doves want to live in a triangle house?
Aging without change can go on and on.
camie fenton says
OK – Mary Jane you make it plain that even with the aging – You and Valentine are having another ‘time of your lives’! I’m so glad to hear from you. Here, my (ex) step-kids came and we had reproachmont (SP for any intelligent readers) – that was healing. As part of that I gave Jay ‘Johah in the big fish’ icon I had bought from you years ago. While I hated to see it go…it went to a good home. Love your descriptions and maybe with aging we just can’t bother with ‘the details’ and as you go along from experience to experience, stumbling and laughing, it is the way to go – as Valentine says, ‘A time of ‘dis-knowing’ will create new ‘knowings’. Well, at Taboada I see similar bodies…Glad you’ve communicated.
Nancy Gardner says
Dear MJ, thank you so much for sharing you amazing adventure. May you bring back all your memories and insights to San Miguel and share them will all who love you! Peace, Nancy