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When I went to Thrace in 1989 with my wife and 10-week-old daughter I employed my trusty technique for unearthing the local folk culture, which is to walk into the nearest likely place and ask. He played in the Greek manner, with the drone balanced on the crook of his elbow and the chanter held forward. The following year my wife found out about an island in the Cyclades that a girl friend of hers was a regular visitor to, and where there were two traditional tsabounaides a€“ players of the island bagpipe.
The whole holiday was, in fact, a catalogue of near-disasters (most of which I will not mention) but I relished each one because of the effort it required to renew my faith in providence and the Greek people, and the rewards I gained.
The islands of the Cyclades each have two main villages, one on the sea edge and one on the top. Three more days passed while we explored the island, absorbing the warm spring sunshine and breathing the herb-scented air. With only one day to go before we had to leave for Piraeus I discovered that the ferry schedule we had been given was wrong; there was no ferry the next day. When I speak highly of Greek music I need hardly say I'm not referring to modern bouzouki music, which is a rather empty style of playing derived from a more interesting but now largely defunct style of bar-room music called rembetika.
Here, morning, noon, and evening, my mother came to draw water from the muddy stream for our household use. Having gone many paces ahead I stopped, panting for breath, and laughing with glee as my mother watched my every movement. Returning from the river, I tugged beside my mother, with my hand upon the bucket I believed I was carrying. I looked up into my mother's face while she spoke; and seeing her bite her lips, I knew she was unhappy.
Setting the pail of water on the ground, my mother stooped, and stretching her left hand out on the level with my eyes, she placed her other arm about me; she pointed to the hill where my uncle and my only sister lay buried.
Though I heard many strange experiences related by these wayfarers, I loved best the evening meal, for that was the time old legends were told.
At the arrival of our guests I sat close to my mother, and did not leave her side without first asking her consent. As each in turn began to tell a legend, I pillowed my head in my mother's lap; and lying flat upon my back, I watched the stars as they peeped down upon me, one by one.
The distant howling of a pack of wolves or the hooting of an owl in the river bottom frightened me, and I nestled into my mother's lap. On such an evening, I remember the glare of the fire shone on a tattooed star upon the brow of the old warrior who was telling a story. After the warrior's story was finished, I asked the old woman the meaning of the blue lines on her chin, looking all the while out of the corners of my eyes at the warrior with the star on his forehead. It was a long story of a woman whose magic power lay hidden behind the marks upon her face.
Untying the long tasseled strings that bound a small brown buckskin bag, my mother spread upon a mat beside her bunches of colored beads, just as an artist arranges the paints upon his palette. Close beside my mother I sat on a rug, with a scrap of buckskin in one hand and an awl in the other.
It took many trials before I learned how to knot my sinew thread on the point of my finger, as I saw her do. Always after these confining lessons I was wild with surplus spirits, and found joyous relief in running loose in the open again.
I remember well how we used to exchange our necklaces, beaded belts, and sometimes even our moccasins. While one was telling of some heroic deed recently done by a near relative, the rest of us listened attentively, and exclaimed in undertones, "Han! No matter how exciting a tale we might be rehearsing, the mere shifting of a cloud shadow in the landscape near by was sufficient to change our impulses; and soon we were all chasing the great shadows that played among the hills. On one occasion I forgot the cloud shadow in a strange notion to catch up with my own shadow. Before this peculiar experience I have no distinct memory of having recognized any vital bond between myself and my own shadow. One summer afternoon my mother left me alone in our wigwam while she went across the way to my aunt's dwelling. I did not much like to stay alone in our tepee for I feared a tall, broad-shouldered crazy man, some forty years old, who walked loose among the hills. I felt so sorry for the man in his misfortune that I prayed to the Great Spirit to restore him. Thus, when my mother left me by myself that afternoon I sat in a fearful mood within our tepee.
Just then, from without a hand lifted the canvas covering of the entrance; the shadow of a man fell within the wigwam, and a large roughly moccasined foot was planted inside. For a moment I did not dare to breathe or stir, for I thought that could be no other than Wiyaka-Napbina.
In front of the wigwam a great fire was built, and several large black kettles of venison were suspended over it. Young girls, with their faces glowing like bright red autumn leaves, their glossy braids falling over each ear, sat coquettishly beside their chaperons. Haraka Wambdi was a strong young brave, who had just returned from his first battle, a warrior. Holding my pretty striped blanket in readiness to throw over my shoulders, I grew more and more restless as I watched the gay throng assembling. Having once seen the suffering on the thin, pinched features of this dying woman, I felt a momentary shame that I had not remembered her before.
Eyeing the forbidden fruit, I trod lightly on the sacred ground, and dared to speak only in whispers until we had gone many paces from it. The lasting impression of that day, as I recall it now, is what my mother told me about the dead man's plum bush.
In the busy autumn days my cousin Warca-Ziwin's mother came to our wigwam to help my mother preserve foods for our winter use.
Ever since I knew her she wore a string of large blue beads around her neck,a€”beads that were precious because my uncle had given them to her when she was a younger woman.
I loved my aunt threefold: for her hearty laughter, for the cheerfulness she caused my mother, and most of all for the times she dried my tears and held me in her lap, when my mother had reproved me.
Early in the cool mornings, just as the yellow rim of the sun rose above the hills, we were up and eating our breakfast.
As I frolicked about our dwelling I used to stop suddenly, and with a fearful awe watch the smoking of the unknown fires. From a field in the fertile river bottom my mother and aunt gathered an abundant supply of corn. There was a little stranger with a black-and-yellow-striped coat that used to come to the drying corn. When mother had dried all the corn she wished, then she sliced great pumpkins into thin rings; and these she doubled and linked together into long chains.
From that day on, for many a moon, I believed that glass marbles had river ice inside of them.
Thus my mother discouraged my curiosity about the lands beyond our eastern horizon; for it was not yet an ambition for Letters that was stirring me.
Wrapped in my heavy blanket, I walked with my mother to the carriage that was soon to take us to the iron horse. There were eight in our party of bronzed children who were going East with the missionaries.
We had been very impatient to start on our journey to the Red Apple Country, which, we were told, lay a little beyond the great circular horizon of the Western prairie. On the train, fair women, with tottering babies on each arm, stopped their haste and scrutinized the children of absent mothers. I sat perfectly still, with my eyes downcast, daring only now and then to shoot long glances around me.
In this way I had forgotten my uncomfortable surroundings, when I heard one of my comrades call out my name. Though we rode several days inside of the iron horse, I do not recall a single thing about our luncheons.
From the table we were taken along an upward incline of wooden boxes, which I learned afterward to call a stairway. I had arrived in the wonderful land of rosy skies, but I was not happy, as I had thought I should be. The first day in the land of apples was a bitter-cold one; for the snow still covered the ground, and the trees were bare. From my hiding place I peered out, shuddering with fear whenever I heard footsteps near by. I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids.
This time the woman meant her blows to smart, for the poor frightened girl shrieked at the top of her voice. With this the woman hid away her half-worn slipper, and led the child out, stroking her black shorn head.
During the first two or three seasons misunderstandings as ridiculous as this one of the snow episode frequently took place, bringing unjustifiable frights and punishments into our little lives.
As I sat eating my dinner, and saw that no turnips were served, I whooped in my heart for having once asserted the rebellion within me. From there you will be directed to someone who will know someone who will know someone, and with uncanny serendipity you are soon in the midst of a very satisfying experience.
With this posture he could release the chanter altogether during improvisations and bounce it rapidly on his thumb, executing a back-note trill which drew gasps of appreciation from the now-assembled audience. Amazingly, both Mehmet's instrument and mine were exactly in tune a€“ B flat a€“ and as I knew some Thracian tunes we were able to play together, though his louder conical bore chanter swamped mine. Not least was the experience of sailing through the Cyclades, with islands appearing to left and right, gracefully recumbent, dozing in their translucent shroud of magic like jewels in the lustrous sea. That was all she could tell me, as she herself never went 'up' any more; she had a grievance against the 'up' villagers involving a stolen purse (the detailed story need not concern us here) and would not speak to them. I had been warned not to expect too much; it would be difficult to get him to play, the weather had to be right, he had to feel right, it had to be a special occasion.
Aristidis kept time resolutely in a monotonous marching rhythm while Yiannoukos played a few notes with inaccurate tempo, stuck on one note for a bit and then played a few more. We breakfasted on fresh bread from the village bakery; Adrienne and I dined on local fish washed down with retsina. I could either hire another fishing boat to Ios ( if I could find anyone to take us) or get the next ferry to Santorini and fly to Athens from there.
I waited outside the taverna as dusk fell and the last rays of the sun lit up the leaves of the vines growing above over the street. It was a modern one, with fruit machines and televisions in the comfortable lounge showing a Greek soap opera. There is an enormous variety of good folk music in Greece, some very sophisticated, demanding an acquired taste, and some quite simple. A footpath wound its way gently down the sloping land till it reached the broad river bottom; creeping through the long swamp grasses that bent over it on either side, it came out on the edge of the Missouri. Loosely clad in a slip of brown buckskin, and light-footed with a pair of soft moccasins on my feet, I was as free as the wind that blew my hair, and no less spirited than a bounding deer.
At the farthest point of the shade my mother sat beside her fire, toasting a savory piece of dried meat.
At noon, several who chanced to be passing by stopped to rest, and to share our luncheon with us, for they were sure of our hospitality. His name was on the lips of old men when talking of the proud feats of valor; and it was mentioned by younger men, too, in connection with deeds of gallantry. I was always glad when the sun hung low in the west, for then my mother sent me to invite the neighboring old men and women to eat supper with us.
Rising at once and carrying their blankets across one shoulder, they flocked leisurely from their various wigwams toward our dwelling.
All out of breath, I told my mother almost the exact words of the answers to my invitation.


I ate my supper in quiet, listening patiently to the talk of the old people, wishing all the time that they would begin the stories I loved best. The increasing interest of the tale aroused me, and I sat up eagerly listening to every word. She added some dry sticks to the open fire, and the bright flames leaped up into the faces of the old folks as they sat around in a great circle. Wherever I saw one I glanced furtively at the mark and round about it, wondering what terrible magic power was covered there. On a bright, clear day, she pulled out the wooden pegs that pinned the skirt of our wigwam to the ground, and rolled the canvas part way up on its frame of slender poles. On a lapboard she smoothed out a double sheet of soft white buckskin; and drawing from a beaded case that hung on the left of her wide belt a long, narrow blade, she trimmed the buckskin into shape.
Then the next difficulty was in keeping my thread stiffly twisted, so that I could easily string my beads upon it.
I was pleased with an outline of yellow upon a background of dark blue, or a combination of red and myrtle-green. Many a summer afternoon a party of four or five of my playmates roamed over the hills with me. We shouted and whooped in the chase; laughing and calling to one another, we were like little sportive nymphs on that Dakota sea of rolling green. Wiyaka-Napbina (Wearer of a Feather Necklace) was harmless, and whenever he came into a wigwam he was driven there by extreme hunger.
But though I pitied him at a distance, I was still afraid of him when he appeared near our wigwam. I recalled all I had ever heard about Wiyaka-Napbina; and I tried to assure myself that though he might pass near by, he would not come to our wigwam because there was no little girl around our grounds. I set the pot on a heap of cold ashes in the centre, and filled it half full of warm Missouri River water. But neither she nor the warrior, whom the law of our custom had compelled to partake of my insipid hospitality, said anything to embarrass me.
With painted faces, and wearing broad white bosoms of elk's teeth, they hurried down the narrow footpath to Haraka Wambdi's wigwam.
It was a custom for young Indian women to invite some older relative to escort them to the public feasts. His near relatives, to celebrate his new rank, were spreading a feast to which the whole of the Indian village was invited. She had a peculiar swing in her gait, caused by a long stride rarely natural to so slight a figure. We awoke so early that we saw the sacred hour when a misty smoke hung over a pit surrounded by an impassable sinking mire.
While the vapor was visible I was afraid to go very far from our wigwam unless I went with my mother. Near our tepee they spread a large canvas upon the grass, and dried their sweet corn in it. It was a little ground squirrel, who was so fearless of me that he came to one corner of the canvas and carried away as much of the sweet corn as he could hold. But chiefest among my early recollections of autumn is that one of the corn drying and the ground squirrel.
They were from that class of white men who wore big hats and carried large hearts, they said.
Your brother said the missionaries had inquired about his little sister," she said, watching my face very closely. The missionaries waited in silence; and my eyes began to blur with tears, though I struggled to choke them back. Alone with my mother, I yielded to my tears, and cried aloud, shaking my head so as not to hear what she was saying to me.
Before I went to bed I begged the Great Spirit to make my mother willing I should go with the missionaries. Under a sky of rosy apples we dreamt of roaming as freely and happily as we had chased the cloud shadows on the Dakota plains.
Large men, with heavy bundles in their hands, halted near by, and riveted their glassy blue eyes upon us. Directly in front of me, children who were no larger than I hung themselves upon the backs of their seats, with their bold white faces toward me. Chancing to turn to the window at my side, I was quite breathless upon seeing one familiar object.
The lights from the windows of the large buildings fell upon some of the icicled trees that stood beneath them.
A large bell rang for breakfast, its loud metallic voice crashing through the belfry overhead and into our sensitive ears. I crept up the stairs as quietly as I could in my squeaking shoes,a€”my moccasins had been exchanged for shoes. As soon as I comprehended a part of what was said and done, a mischievous spirit of revenge possessed me.
In Xanthi, the provincial capital, things started happening when I spotted a small urchin standing on a street corner holding what looked suspiciously like part of a gaida drone. He also had the trick of walking up to a seated listener whom he judged to be sympathetic and playing directly into his ear, more as an acknowledgement of the listener's interest than a direct appeal for money, though I'm not ashamed to say I responded to this gesture fairly liberally.
All the boys were careless and funloving, attaching more importance to horseplay than they did to the business of earning a living. We alighted on Ios without knowing whether or not we would be able to get to our destination, Sikinos, which was visible close by, as there was no ferry.
I got him to understand that I had come all the way from England to hear him play, and he agreed to oblige me that evening. His reeds were not well tuned and the two pipes of his double chanter were in audible disagreement.
In the midst of all these negotiations and the constant effort of keeping my family occupied and relatively comfortable, I knew I still had to track down the other piper, the elder brother. The primitive traditional music of Sikinos was already a world away, as insubstantial now as the island itself, just a faint violet smudge on the horizon. Adonis had gone to a nearby hut where he kept his tsabouna.A  He arrived, bringing the bagpipe and a toubi.
It's the weather, the sea, the islands, the food, the extraordinary light, the variety of experiences, the folk culture (especially the music) and most of all the people. Many of these traditions are very ancient indeed, having probably remained unchanged since early Byzantine or even Classical times. It was as if I were the activity, and my hands and feet were only experiments for my spirit to work upon. My grown-up cousin, Warca-Ziwin (Sunflower), who was then seventeen, always went to the river alone for water for her mother. We traveled many days and nights; not in the grand, happy way that we moved camp when I was a little girl, but we were driven, my child, driven like a herd of buffalo. Near her, I sat upon my feet, eating my dried meat with unleavened bread, and drinking strong black coffee.
Old women praised him for his kindness toward them; young women held him up as an ideal to their sweethearts. The old women made funny remarks, and laughed so heartily that I could not help joining them.
Then the cool morning breezes swept freely through our dwelling, now and then wafting the perfume of sweet grasses from newly burnt prairie.
From a skein of finely twisted threads of silvery sinews my mother pulled out a single one. My original designs were not always symmetrical nor sufficiently characteristic, two faults with which my mother had little patience. We each carried a light sharpened rod about four feet long, with which we pried up certain sweet roots. When, with the greatest care, I set my foot in advance of myself, my shadow crept onward too.
He was overtaken by a malicious spirit among the hills, one day, when he went hither and thither after his ponies. Behind them some of the braves stood leaning against the necks of their ponies, their tall figures draped in loose robes which were well drawn over their eyes. I grew sober with awe, and was alert to hear a long-drawn-out whistle rise from the roots of it. It was during my aunt's visit with us that my mother forgot her accustomed quietness, often laughing heartily at some of my aunt's witty remarks. This strange smoke appeared every morning, both winter and summer; but most visibly in midwinter it rose immediately above the marshy spot.
I wanted very much to catch him and rub his pretty fur back, but my mother said he would be so frightened if I caught him that he would bite my fingers. Running direct to my mother, I began to question her why these two strangers were among us. First it was a change from the buffalo skin to the white man's canvas that covered our wigwam.
I had never tasted more than a dozen red apples in my life; and when I heard of the orchards of the East, I was eager to roam among them.
This was the first time I had ever been so unwilling to give up my own desire that I refused to hearken to my mother's voice. I looked at it in amazement, and with a vague misgiving, for in our village I had never seen so large a house. We had anticipated much pleasure from a ride on the iron horse, but the throngs of staring palefaces disturbed and troubled us.
Sometimes they took their forefingers out of their mouths and pointed at my moccasined feet.
We were led toward an open door, where the brightness of the lights within flooded out over the heads of the excited palefaces who blocked our way. The noisy hurrying of hard shoes upon a bare wooden floor increased the whirring in my ears.
One morning we learned through her ears that we were forbidden to fall lengthwise in the snow, as we had been doing, to see our own impressions. Her words fell from her lips like crackling embers, and her inflection ran up like the small end of a switch. Accompanied by an English-speaking student who had befriended us, I approached the young ragamuffin, examined the object and, after ascertaining that it was indeed what I had first thought, was conducted to the town square, where there was a small gang of travelling orphans living on the busking proceeds of their leader, a 14-year-old Turkish gypsy called Mehmet who came from Oresteia near the Turkish border. The bag of Mehmet's instrument was a large goatskin, very dilapidated and plugged with a saucer-sized wooden disk where it had been torn.
When anyone got some money it was immediately spent and the purchase shared among the gang without preference.
But I had drunk enough retsina by that time to be generously disposed towards the musicians and applauded fulsomely when, after about fifteen minutes, the ragged improvisation came to a halt. I made one last effort and got directions to the house of Anna Manala, the lady who spoke English.
Adonis Kaboulas and his brother Yiannoukos are the last, definitely the last, exponents of an unbroken line of music stretching back into antiquity. I find in them a lively spirituality, a true pride of self, that I only occasionally find elsewhere.
The peculiar wailing music of Epirus and southern Albania is an example of one of those untouched traditions. Often she was sad and silent, at which times her full arched lips were compressed into hard and bitter lines, and shadows fell under her black eyes. With every step, your sister, who was not as large as you are now, shrieked with the painful jar until she was hoarse with crying.
The quietness of her oversight made me feel strongly responsible and dependent upon my own judgment. When I became a little familiar with designing and the various pleasing combinations of color, a harder lesson was given me.


When we had eaten all the choice roots we chanced upon, we shouldered our rods and strayed off into patches of a stalky plant under whose yellow blossoms we found little crystal drops of gum. As the discourse became more thrilling, according to our ideas, we raised our voices in these interjections. In one tawny arm he used to carry a heavy bunch of wild sunflowers that he gathered in his aimless ramblings. I was brave when my mother was near by, and Wiyaka-Napbina walking farther and farther away. They overtook and passed by the bent old grandmothers who were trudging along with crooked canes toward the centre of excitement. Though I had never heard with my own ears this strange whistle of departed spirits, yet I had listened so frequently to hear the old folks describe it that I knew I should recognize it at once. By the time the full face of the sun appeared above the eastern horizon, the smoke vanished.
Walking with my mother to the river, on a late winter day, we found great chunks of ice piled all along the bank. She told me, after I had teased much, that they had come to take away Indian boys and girls to the East.
Now she had given up her wigwam of slender poles, to live, a foreigner, in a home of clumsy logs.
We showed one another our new beaded moccasins, and the width of the belts that girdled our new dresses. Trembling with fear and distrust of the palefaces, my teeth chattering from the chilly ride, I crept noiselessly in my soft moccasins along the narrow hall, keeping very close to the bare wall. Their mothers, instead of reproving such rude curiosity, looked closely at me, and attracted their children's further notice to my blanket.
Very near my mother's dwelling, along the edge of a road thickly bordered with wild sunflowers, some poles like these had been planted by white men. My tears were left to dry themselves in streaks, because neither my aunt nor my mother was near to wipe them away.
The constant clash of harsh noises, with an undercurrent of many voices murmuring an unknown tongue, made a bedlam within which I was securely tied.
Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. However, before many hours we had forgotten the order, and were having great sport in the snow, when a shrill voice called us. With one of the smaller boys playing expertly on the toubeleki drum, he proceeded to regale my ears with fine gaida music. The chanter also was the worse for wear, with a piece of wood replacing a broken section between two of the finger holes. Mehmet possessed the quality which all people from that part of the world have, of rewarding sincerity with warmer sincerity. The Rough Guide to Greece says that the word malaka (wanker) is an affectionate term of abuse in Athens. He chatted and laughed with his young son as we dived into the billows, drenched with every bowspray; an ideal father-son relationship, relaxed and trusting. A middle-class, English-speaking Greek woman who lived on the island told me about the bagpipers.
They have faults too, of course; they can be over-emotional, lazy, arrogant, but underlying it all is a richness of experiencing exemplified by Katsimbalis in Henry Miller's book The Colossus of Maroussi a€“ the attitude that 'life is interesting because I am living it'. Bagpipe music also, because of its inability to adapt to the demands of more recent musical trends, including ensemble playing, has retained a character that clarinet, violin, sandouri (hammered dulcimer) etc. Thus it happened that even strangers were sure of welcome in our lodge, if they but asked a favor in my uncle's name. It was not any fear that made me so dumb when out upon such a happy errand; nor was it that I wished to withhold the invitation, for it was all I could do to observe this very proper silence. Picking up the tiny beads one by one, she strung them with the point of her thread, always twisting it carefully after every stitch. Soon I learned from self-inflicted punishment to refrain from drawing complex patterns, for I had to finish whatever I began. She treated me as a dignified little individual as long as I was on my good behavior; and how humiliated I was when some boldness of mine drew forth a rebuke from her!
It was the sewing on, instead of beads, some tinted porcupine quills, moistened and flattened between the nails of the thumb and forefinger. Drop by drop we gathered this nature's rock-candy, until each of us could boast of a lump the size of a small bird's egg.
In these impersonations our parents were led to say only those things that were in common favor. His black hair was matted by the winds, and scorched into a dry red by the constant summer sun.
Turning soon to the coffeepot, which would never have boiled on a dead fire had I waited forever, I poured out a cup of worse than muddy warm water. Even very old men, who had known this country the longest, said that the smoke from this pit had never failed a single day to rise heavenward.
I braided their soft fine silk for hair, and gave them blankets as various as the scraps I found in my mother's workbag.
It was another, a young interpreter, a paleface who had a smattering of the Indian language. Often I had stopped, on my way down the road, to hold my ear against the pole, and, hearing its low moaning, I used to wonder what the paleface had done to hurt it. As I was wondering in which direction to escape from all this confusion, two warm hands grasped me firmly, and in the same moment I was tossed high in midair. I was tucked into bed with one of the tall girls, because she talked to me in my mother tongue and seemed to soothe me. As I walked noiselessly in my soft moccasins, I felt like sinking to the floor, for my blanket had been stripped from my shoulders.
Mehmet spent a good deal of time mucking around with his chanter reed, scorching the tongue with a cigarette lighter and so on, but couldn't get it working to his satisfaction and eventually broke it with a resigned shrug. I quickly developed a strong affection for him and his scruffy entourage, and was sorry to leave Xanthi. Outside the airport I used the word on a taxi driver who refused to take me, me wife, our daughter and my three daughters from a previous marriage together in his ample-sized vehicle. A young man sat down with them and began to sing along, at which point I realised that the apparently random sequences of notes that Yiannoukos was playing were actually tunes a€“ local traditional melodies. She had heard that by good fortune Adonis was herding his goats in a nearby field and she would take me to see him, if he was still there. But I particularly remember the innocent, untroubled expression on Adonis' face as he sang the simple old songs. But it was a sensing of the atmosphere, to assure myself that I should not hinder other plans.
Soon satiated with its woody flavor, we tossed away our gum, to return again to the sweet roots. In the lap of the prairie we seated ourselves upon our feet, and leaning our painted cheeks in the palms of our hands, we rested our elbows on our knees, and bent forward as old women were most accustomed to do. As he took great strides, placing one brown bare foot directly in front of the other, he swung his long lean arm to and fro. Carrying the bowl in one hand and cup in the other, I handed the light luncheon to the old warrior. Some evenings I have seen him creeping about our grounds; and when I gave a sudden whoop of recognition he ran quickly out of sight.
As I stood beside one large block, I noticed for the first time the colors of the rainbow in the crystal ice. But in a day or two, I gleaned many wonderful stories from my playfellows concerning the strangers.
When I saw the lonely figure of my mother vanish in the distance, a sense of regret settled heavily upon me. I looked hard at the Indian girls, who seemed not to care that they were even more immodestly dressed than I, in their tightly fitting clothes.
Thankful that no one was there, I directed my steps toward the corner farthest from the door. But yes, at 8.30 he walked into the taverna carrying his tsambouna, accompaied by an old man in his 80s called Aristidis, who was going to play the toubi, a small snare drum. We struggled up the hillside on foot, over rocks and thorny scrub, and eventually came upon a small hut, ouside which an elderly man stood, raggedly dressed, leaning on a stick. He was a natural musician, playing with sensitivity and a superior technique to that of his brother, and his chanter pipes were in tune. Greeks nowadays love to rattle up and down the scale with great virtuosity, whereas the simple six-note tunes of gaida, tsabouna and tulum offer no such opportunities. Faster and faster I ran, setting my teeth and clenching my fists, determined to overtake my own fleet shadow. I was too cowardly to admit that I had been the cause of this inexplicable event until we were on the ferry and safely on our way. We played together for the rest of the evening while the relaxed group of listeners chatted and joined in the songs.
But Greek pipers do play with their own particular brands of skill and panache even if you have to be there to see it. For this reason, my mother said, I should not do much alone in quills until I was as tall as my cousin Warca-Ziwin. With my bare fingers I tried to pick out some of the colors, for they seemed so near the surface. I stared into her eyes, wishing her to let me stand on my own feet, but she jumped me up and down with increasing enthusiasm. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder. The older brother Adonis was generally acknowledged to be the better piper, but in any case the islanders thought tsabouna music old-fashioned, preferring to listen to modern music on the radio. Anna hailed him cheerfully and launched into a long speech, while I stood smiling and nodding.
But my fingers began to sting with the intense cold, and I had to bite them hard to keep from crying. I stood upon a step, and, grasping the handle with both hands, I bent in hot rage over the turnips. I felt triumphant in my revenge, though deep within me I was a wee bit sorry to have broken the jar.
Anna told me that she had persuaded him to play for me that evening up in the village, and that he would meet me later at the port kafeneion.
The three brothers and two sisters were distributed among the families of the island as was the custom. Now the first step, parting me from my mother, was taken, and all my belated tears availed nothing. Supposing this act meant they were to be seated, I pulled out mine and at once slipped into it from one side.
When the adoptive parents of Adonis died he inherited their land as they had no children of their own, but he did nothing with it, preferring to pasture his small flock of goats around the island, moving from place to place.
But when I turned my head, I saw that I was the only one seated, and all the rest at our table remained standing. Just as I began to rise, looking shyly around to see how chairs were to be used, a second bell was sounded. I renewed my energy; and as I sent the masher into the bottom of the jar, I felt a satisfying sensation that the weight of my body had gone into it.



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01.11.2013 admin



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