So this is how sunrise looks…

So this is how sunrise looks...

Woke up early this AM and went to the beach to grab a few snaps. The clouds from last evening stuck around overnight so the view was pretty amazing.

I didn’t change the colors in post-processing.  The variance is a result of locking the exposure to different areas within the frame.

All-in-all, a pretty rewarding trip to the beach.  Maybe I’ll get up indecently early again someday…

Sikya Sunset

Sikya Sunset

Sorry about the soft focus — the camera was having a moment — but I thought the colors were nice. We had some clouds this afternoon so the sunset was colorful and I just happened to be coming back home from Melissi when the sun was resting on the horizon.


When I went out to the balcony to watch the sunset yesterday there was a plume of smoke in the mountains across the Gulf. I went down to the beach to take a couple of photos. It was obvious a significant west wind was blowing across the fire, pushing the column of smoke sideways toward Athens.  When I got back to the balcony the sun had set and in the shadows I could see flames with the naked eye.  As the sky darkened, the flames advanced and joined, forming what looked from the south to be a wall of fire.   The camera lost its ability to focus in the dark but as midnight approached, the fire seemed to break apart again, presumably having burnt itself out.

In that first thumbnail taken from the balcony, you can see what I think is a fire plane, wheeling away after a water drop.  I think the planes stopped flying at dark — at least I didn’t see any signs of aircraft after that.

The first two balcony shots were taken at 30x, well into the digital zoom range, presumably with the ISO pushed to max, so they’re really grainy and noisy.

This morning, from the water, I could see the area smoldering but it was clear the fire was out.  I saw nothing about it in the news websites.  I don’t think there is a village in the affected area.

As in the American west, wild fires are simply a part of summer in southern Greece.  The hot winds known as Meltimi winds blow down out of the Balkan peninsula, and spring’s wildflowers and greenery, having long since turned to kindling by cloudless, scorching weather, combust with the least encouragement.  The absence of trees here makes the fires relatively less intense; the flames consume the available fuel quickly.  Still, this seems to me very early for the number of fires I’m seeing reported.  This is something I normally associate with August, so I’m afraid we could be in for a bad fire season.

The scent of ruins

The scent of ruins

Decaying areas in cities usually produce an odor that I think smells like wet newspaper. Whether it’s here or in the US, the deterioration of old buildings gives off the distinctive funk of rotting cardboard, books, paper.

The ancient sites of Greece also have a particular odor but in this case the scent is of herbs: heated herbs. Hints of oregano, thyme, and sage waft above the browned weeds that surround the ancient walls and stones. Which is pretty reasonable considering that wild versions of those herbs and others are ubiquitous in Greece, and that the summer sun here bakes every low green bush to dust by the time fall’s rain arrives. The olfactory effect is not so much Thanksgiving dinner as the almost subliminal awareness of a familiar, pleasant scent rising from the weeds as you walk; a perfume that over time becomes associated with tromping around ancient stones.

Sites lucky enough to enjoy the presence of pines have that delightful note in addition to their summer bouquet, and it adds a peaceful, calming tone that is perhaps attributable to but certainly reinforced by the blessed shelter from the sun provided by those trees.

The site of ancient Argos does not enjoy the presence of pines but the scent of herbs in those browned-out fields is almost palpable as I look at this photo.

Suddenly, Summer

Suddenly, Summer

Summer showed up yesterday. To be sure, we had a hot day in Athens about a month ago and a hot day on Hydra last week but yesterday this place finally felt like a beach and today,  with a high in the mid-90s,  we took our first swims in the Gulf. The water’s still pretty cool but there are warm spots floating through so it’s not too hard to bob like a…half-empty beer bottle or a semi-inflated wine-skin while taking in the streaks and spots of snow remaining on Parnassos. Everyone who made the trek from Athens this weekend is on the beach, and so are we. But not in this photo.