I began my journey to understand my land and the more I looked out of the big towns and known paths what I found was resilience. Time never stays still but most certainly doesn’t obey man’s made calendar either. What I found was a source of energy available only to those who are willing to stop and rest awhile in places where life gives more than you ever anticipate. The land is teaching lessons and shares its knowledge in ways one never expects.
Crete is much more than what the adverts and pamphlets might say to the foreign visitor. It is not just a few well known locations but much more than that and even more than one can ever imagine. Only recently, although not surprisingly, it has been proven that my beautiful island was inhabited more than 5.6 million years ago. So it has much to tell us away from the usual places to visit, but only if you are willing to follow less known destinations.
And on these destinations quiet is the first thing that becomes immediately apparent. Here man made noise dissipates and nature takes over. The bees buzzing and the birds chirping are just some of the natural sounds. But the one that always takes me by surprise and never expect to hear is the soft rustle of the olive tree. Each has its own distinct sound and rhythm and if I come closer and touch the gnarly twisted trunk I am able to feel the energy it exudes. Here stand these wise old souls defiant to being hit for centuries upon centuries to give their fruit to man for its liquid gold. Yet they grow and shake of their rugged appearance to bounce back with a fresh mane of silver green leaves to bear fruit yet again, unphased time and time again, season upon season through the centuries. This alone makes me admire them with a sense of wonder or how I think they never let the weather hinder their purpose.
And if I see hold long some of these trees have lived and list Crete’s history by their age it goes along this line: Minoan civilisation, Mycenaean civilisation, Archaic period, Classical period, Roman rule, Byzantine empire 1st period, Arab rule, Byzantine 2nd period, Venetian Rule, Ottoman Rule, Cretan new state, WWII up to this present date. That is an overwhelming amount of time for one tree to live and continue thriving. Although it is just a tree to some I see it as much more than that. It’s nature’s teacher. It speaks of how we can withstand more than we think. All this becomes a lesson that life is once only, that we are all unique in our ways, that perseverance is key to recover from any hurdle and proudly show our scars while we are filled with new found energy and proud of all our life’s hard labours. I find myself smiling having understood this now.
Legend and science has it that this here monumental olive tree in Samonas village is 3000 years old. This tree has more sisters standing gracefully, fertile and proud crowning us all in their beauty in many other hidden paths around the island. They are time keepers, majestic souls yet humble all at once; while we rush through our lives. But what I am looking at is more than what science can tell me. I’m looking at my land off the beaten track so fertile, generous and giving on an island like no other.
We don’t call ourselves Greek first. We call ourselves Cretan and now more than ever before I understand why.
The Terra Creta explorer