beach glass

Athens-05One. I drove away from Athens.

For me, July 21st is often a fraught day. Nineteen years ago on that day, my mother died.

So it was with a quiet heart that, on the 20th, Ms. D and I rented a car and headed north, bound for a more remote spot, the island of Evia. After a couple of hours, we found ourselves on a winding mountain road, zipping through hairpin turns which delivered us eventually into lush lowlands dotted with farms and vegetable stands tended by smiling local farmers. We bought jars of local honey and bags of fresh oregano. We loaded up on onions, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers–ingredients for a classic Greek salad. The sun had kissed the hillsides, turning them amber. And man, what a noisy riot the cicadas were making!Agkali-03Two. I pointed the car toward Agia Anna, on the northeast coast of Evia.

We arrived late in the afternoon, and the sight of the coast pretty much took my breath away. Nothing quite prepares you for that!Agkali-02Three. We joined friends at their villa–old friends for Ms. D, new friends for me. Being greeted like I was a long lost cousin did my heart good.

And I couldn’t help but notice the lavender beds. When our host Mario urged me to take home as much as I wanted, I had to be grateful that I’d slipped a pair of very good scissors into my suitcase at the last minute.Agkali-01

Four. I marked the next day, July 21st, without a word to anyone, even Ms. D, who knew my mother well. At precisely 4 p.m., the hour Lynn Simms Piatt stepped into what poetess Mary Oliver calls “the cottage of darkness,” I was standing with my feet in the Aegean, scouring the area around my feet for beach glass.

I like to think my mother pointed out the only light aqua piece currently in my collection.

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Tossa-de-Mar_4493

For my birthday this last week, we headed up north, to the famed Costa Brava.  Tossa del Mar was the first town we landed in, and I’m fairly sure it’s not real.  That is, I believe we stumbled into a parallel universe, where, having been professionally photoshopped and airbrushed for the out-of-towners who wander through, everything(!) is made to seem improbably lovely.

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Example.  I’ve never found so much beach glass on one beach.  Did the prime movers of this parallel universe know that I love beach glass almost more than life itself?–the only thing registering higher on my love-o-meter being the search for beach glass alongside my children?  I think I could move to Tossa del Mar, park myself and my kids on the beach, and stage a massive Beach Glass Hunt that goes on for, oh, a year or so.

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Were we to set up shop here, Silas might want to take over the castle, just to keep things interesting in this seaside parallel-o-verse. He loves climbing around through the ruins. He could be the lord of the cliffs.

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And naturally I would have to retain whoever baked the chocolate mousse cake pictured here, a slice of which the girls and I enjoyed at a cafe so charming it could only exist–you’ve got it–in a parallel you-know-what. After all, even in otherworldly places, gals require calories.

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The afternoon felt like a moment from someone else’s life.  Maybe I was channeling the original mistress of the castle, in which case all that I surveyed was (for the time being) mine!

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Or maybe Millie had it right: just take it all in. And smile. And hope to come back soon.

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