It comes down to sheep and cats…

Posted on November 4, 2011

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I’m going to let you in on a secret, but you have to promise not to tell anyone. Here goes: you know those little pieces of paper that come with all our items, the ones with our philosophy and the name of the woman who made the piece? Well, if yours reads ‘Ajda K,’ that is our very own Ajda Hanim, the matron of the workshop, our post-menopausal cat. She gets credit if anyone of our ladies forgets to write her own name on the piece. We are, after all, about creating opportunities. Just because you have an opportunity doesn’t mean you have to take it anymore than you have to remember to fill out that paper that the boss insists on.

There was a lot of horrible news in addition to too much direct death this past week and there will be a whole lot more with the sacrificial holiday just around the corner…I’ll be chucked in a rubbish bin too eventually but I am trying to make the most of it all until then. Sometimes though, word from realities that are not my own are just a bit difficult to deal with.

And yet, right now, here on the Aegean Coast, we are experiencing a glorious autumn. The sun has been shining and the weather is warm though nights are cool; three fires in the conservatory fireplace for special friends so far. The fruits and vegetables in the market have changed and the crowds of summer have gone; my pomegranates are almost all picked, the quinces and persimmons are nearly ready to pick and walnuts are already gone. Okay, it is a young tree so there were only 3 walnuts, and they were meant to be deliciously shared …

Living here year-round in Ayvalik, working with people who are mostly from here has made me look at life via a much different perspective. There is less money to be earned here than in jobs elsewhere, namely in urban areas, and the overall quality of life goes up exponentially as you define your own satisfaction on levels that you yourself create. Heating with a wood stove means you live closer to the seasons; shopping at the local weekly produce market means you are more in touch with the food of the seasons, to say nothing of the tastes. I could purchase a sheep right in front of our workshop to be sacrificed this Sunday, or I could have started a ‘save the sheep association’ with my own flock purchased from same place. (I opted to do neither, knowing I will not leave my house that day regardless) I couldn’t get the answer to why everyone at this week’s market was walking around with a live chicken under their arms though…

As the head of my neighborhood association, I am still trying to learn how to make headway at the most local, most basic level. This is where you see slow-life in action, or rather in-action, while your neighbors roll their eyes while they smilingly admit that they too follow along like sheep, and that’s how they are. I take my own stubbornness, add it to their acceptance of me, and naively don my shepherdess outfit to try and lead them down the path of doing something themselves.

If I manage to reduce the litter, to get some of the trees we’ll have planted on the streets to grow, get the neighborhood to work on their own playground, get people to join in a neighborhood celebration, you can bet it won’t be my name found anywhere though. When all is said and done, this will happen if it is fun and if people feel good in the process and if it is a collective effort. Sorry I can’t do anything for the sheep though…

Another acceptance of reality in the life of the garbage lady.

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