Welcome April! The Spring weather of the last weeks have been all over the place: cloud, rain, dust storms, but now it is hopefully more settled with blue sky and sunshine all the way!
A little earlier than usual, a couple of weeks ago I spotted a feathered friend bobbing around my garden, the Hoopoe bird. Usually he arrives here around the 1st of April but this year he arrived a bit early. I love to see his wonderful dusky pink colour and the crest on top of its head, it always makes me smile and happy that Spring is really here.
The countryside is littered with wild flowers, especially bright red poppies which contrast nicely with the white anemones and a few vibrant splashes of vivid pink from the wild gladioli; sometimes, if you are lucky, you will catch a lovely butterfly having a rest on a flower stem. Some of the green grasses have begun to die back as the weather warms and sadly it won’t be long before the wild flowers are gone for another year.
Spring is all about new beginnings and can promote a feeling of general positivity and happiness. The privilege of living here, and being so near to the countryside, enables us to observe the passing seasons and enjoy what they each bring: who can fail to be happy when you see the variety of flowers, the snow capped mountains, the blue sky and hear the new born baby lambs… aahhh!
So this is the month of the BIG event that many Greeks have been waiting for… Easter or Paska. It is a huge holiday to be best enjoyed in the company of family and friends; a feast of food and drink, especially for those who have observed the fasting. Easter is the time to indulge and have a very merry time.
On the Saturday night before Easter Sunday in many of the villages in Greece, large crowds gather to watch the burning of the Judas effigy on huge bonfires. This is the start of the celebrations and you can expect lots of excitement and noise, especially from the firecrackers with the incredibly loud bang enough to make you jump, usually to the delight and amusement of those around.
With the expected indulgence over Easter time it is wise to remember that Crete also offers an abundance of natural and healthy products; wild greens, horta, wild mushrooms, fresh goats cheese and milk all contribute to making the Cretan diet one of the worlds healthiest.
On a fine April day the wild chamomile flowers can be picked and dried to use in a herbal tea. This wonderful fragrant tincture is thought to be a cure all for mild ailments such as a sore tummy, especially after eating or drinking too much! So make sure you have a jar of this medicinal tea available to sip after that second or third chocolate egg!
Photo credit: Apricot blosom Agia Galini, Crete