In the Bleak Mid-summer.. Shit fell, shit on shit, shit on shit..
What the Summer Gods gave with one hand - warmth, sunshine, a greenhouse resplendent with the tastiest of tomatoes... they took away with the other, dumping the detritus of life on the Socks long, long after I'd reached my breaking point. Having a beloved cat and a sister-in-law with terminal prognosis and the rest of my small group of relatives in varying states of dementia or depression hasn't helped but it isn't these that cause the problem. I can cope with the big things by going into a state of denial. The fact that there is nothing can be done but get on with it, almost eases the pain. No, it is the vile, disgusting, self-interest of those who pose as normal, pleasant, people that smothers me, that obsesses me, that I can't get out of my head and is all I really think about.. That wakes me in the night with my heartbeat too huge to be contained.. and whilst it should be minor in the scale of bad things, it rips the lid off the Pandora's box of bitterness and self-pity for everything that ever went wrong, for each hurt I ever suffered - and I feel the pain of them over and over again. Pandora's box is locked for good reason.
I try a technique to distract me from the bad thoughts, name as many American States as I can.. starting with the As.. Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona.... there should be fifty I can't get to more than 34. This in turn obsesses me.. listing them on my iPad at three in the morning to see which I have missed, which I have counted twice..
We book a week in Turkey to stave off my inevitable breakdown. We should have been touring the winelands of California, Yosemite Park and Vegas but that was all cancelled long ago. I won't leave Spook for too long even though at present he is a happy, bouncy, plump ball of wickedness despite losing his whiskers to the chemo treatments over the summer.
The villa is one we stayed at two years ago, we wouldn't normally return somewhere when there is the rest of the world to explore but this is perfect - an infinity pool looking out to the warm, clear sea below, the sunsets and the stars. I am set up to do nothing but read, rest and relax for a week. I love to swim.. I float naked in the privacy of our pool watching the stars, the cool cocooning water soothing my body, stealing away the stress.
Our main enjoyment over the English summer has been finding and photographing dragonflies. As I drift, lazily in the pool one morning I notice one little Turkish beauty on a branch tip of the pine tree by the edge. Then another and another as I realise that each branch has attracted a visiting red-veined darter.. each posing and posturing showing their best angles to an awaiting photographer. There are some good pictures although blogger invariably blurs them - clic to enlarge
When we can be tempted from the villa it is for a short drive to the fabulous Patara bay.. twelve kilometres of unspoilt, silver sand.
Behind the bay lie the ruins of Patara an extraordinary and totally understated archaeological find. What was once a thriving Lycian port lay covered by sand and marshes until in the 1990s a gradual excavation started. In the dunes lie the ruins of a Roman lighthouse almost 2000 years old, the skeleton of the lighthouse keeper found crushed in the ruins a possible victim of a tsunami believed to have devastated the town. Despite the interest and beauty of the place it is more or less deserted with most people heading straight to the beach area a few hundred metres away. This leaves the ruins to us and a host of wildlife guarding the temples like the reincarnated souls of the worshipped Gods.
A large lizard
An abundance of red-veined darters - a shaft of sunlight through the dragonfly's wings staining the stone with colour. The male the brightest of blood reds
The female sulphurous yellow
and luminescent blue-tailed damselflies eager to steal the scene.
And most extraordinarily a Turkish kingfisher perched on a broken column turns it's dagger-beaked profile to glare at us, a gleaming vision of intense, iridescent blues excelling even those of the azure Lycian sea nearby. Too late to photograph but the image is imprinted forever in our memories.
If the kingfisher is Apollo jealously guarding his temple then these oriental hornets must be the incarnation of Mars, God of war! We didn't even notice these two inch long predators were eating a dead furry thing until the photograph was enlarged!
We swim in the warm waves at Patara letting the sea pummel our problems away. We visit the Hammam where last time a doe-eyed, long-lashed Turkish boy scrubbed us down and soaped us. This time I am washed down by a man who looks more like Craig Charles from Red Dwarf/Corrie - he grunts a bit and enjoys my scream when he chucks a bucket of icy water over me. Nevertheless it makes me feel good, cleansed of worries, relaxed. We enjoy massages in a little cave by the sea, lulled by the sound of waves lapping the rocks below and the practiced hands of the masseuse, soft, smooth, stroking motions and fragrant oils that soothe away our aches and anxieties. We eat, we sleep, we are at peace.
On the flight home with Monarch Airlines they have run out of gin.
One day home and I am obsessing again. By this time I have discovered the missing States, Idaho, West Virginia, Utah.. I allow myself Monterey as I clearly meant Montana. The new distraction technique is to name a song or film containing the name of a U.S. State
"What did Delaware boy, what did Delaware?
She wore a brand New Jersey
She wore a brand New Jersey
She wore a brand New Jersey.. that's what she did wear"