Stavros

Two Weeks in Frisco

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 | Art, Performance, Stavros, Travel | No Comments

I’m not sure how the word “Frisco” became associated with a less-sophisticated appellation, but I warmly embrace it, in the company of every wisecracking dame and hard-boiled fedora-wearing tough-guy from Joan Blondell to Burt Lancaster and Edward G. Robinson, as the preferred nickname of our fair town. Stavros was here. And now he’s gone. Frisco just ain’t the same.

We spent a little weekend together in the Russian River, stopping in Petaluma and then driving through the Dry Creek wine country and doing some tasting. We stayed in Monte Rio, on the river under the redwoods at the Village Inn, where scenes were shot for the 1942 Bing Crosby Fred Astaire movie Holiday Inn, best remembered for the song “White Christmas.” Across the bridge, on the other side of the river is a little vintage quonset hut movie theater, The Rio, where we saw Don John. It’s so cold in the theater they give you wool blankets to snuggle up under. There were only 4 or so of us in the audience. This theater is a little gem, with murals painted by local artists, and the ceiling draped in the remnants of Christo’s “Running Fence.”

We saw the David Hockney show at the de Young. While a young student at the San Francisco Art Institute, working my way through school by cashiering at Marcello’s Pizza on Castro, one of the cooks at Marcello’s, David Dambacher, an older little man with a sort of nasally voice, took a liking to me, constantly bringing up “Daaaaa-vid.” Daaaaa-vid this and Daaaaa-vid that… David Hockney. They were friends in LA. I had never heard of David Hockney, which exasperated his attempts to impress me. I just thought, if this guy were a good buddy of this “famous” artist, what was he doing working as a pizza cook for $6.25/hour? One day he showed up while I was working and laid out a little picnic on one of the tables, with baguette, wine and cheese, and a monograph of works by David Hockney. A few weeks later at school, I noticed that my photos were missing from the darkroom drying racks. I didn’t think anything of it until I received a ransom note from David, demanding my body in exchange for my art. He continued aggressively pursuing me until one day I received a barf bag on my doorstep, covered in scribblings announcing that he was moving out of town and that I would never hear from him again, brutally assaulting my ignorance and failure to grasp the intensity and beauty of our potential coupling.

So, David Hockney. The show was great. Although he blew up these little iPad drawings into museum-ready numbered editioned prints, which completely turned me off. Rather than fully embracing a new technology, he merely made the same old stuff look like it was drawn by a robot.  Otherwise, the color and scale and vibrance of the rest of the work was just the thing to enjoy as a contrast to all the conceptual and abstract swaggering going on about town. One room in particular contained one of the most mesmerizing video installations I’ve seen in a while. On each of the 4 walls of the room he mounted a grid of flat-panel TV screens, each grid showing the same scene, moving slowly down a country road, but at different times of the year, each of the 4 scenes synched at the same point on the road. Such a simple gesture, walking down a country road, but executed with extraordinarily complex visual and digital engineering. I am so sorry I didn’t know who he was when I had the chance to get some real dirt on this guy 30 years ago.

My friend Emily took us to hear Cameo in concert at Yoshi’s on Halloween. I dressed up as a swinging disco dude, Michael Caine’s little brother circa 1977. My feet were so sore from my platform shoes that I didn’t dance. I don’t know how John Travolta did it. And my head was so itchy under my wig, I just wanted to go home and wash it. But I didn’t, afterwards we wandered around Castro Street and mingled with the other revelers, constantly scratching at my wig until finally limping up the hill to my house.

I introduced Stavros to chicken mole and dim sum on this trip. That’s like watching Vertigo for the first time. Twice. Which he hasn’t seen, actually, but I’m saving that for the next trip. We drank martinis with Dean Smith and Mike Kitchell, and I think all of us passed out during My Dog Tulip, which seemed an appropriate thing to watch and do after the Hockney show. We shopped at Macy’s. We had Little Star Pizza with my family and ended up with 2 whole leftover pizzas, the last 2 slices of which I’m currently nibbling on for lunch today. We saw Gravity in 3-D with Daniel. We went to my sister’s open studio and marveled at her ability to draw so fluidly with wire and marbles. We nibbled on free food at the Ferry Building and Trader Joe’s. I made a traditional bolognese meat sauce with texturized vegetable protein. Stavros made his famous eggs for breakfast and many recipes from his One-Spoon Project. We walked d’Auggie around the Castro together. We inadvertently staged an impromptu mini Danish film festival. We hiked with Big Chrissy and Small d’Auggie at Fort Funsten. We brunched with Dean and Chris at Kate’s Kitchen. We ate expensive pastries and drank coffee with Nemr and his current ex-husband at Craftsmen & Wolves and hung out with the hipsters on Valencia.

And now we talk every day via FaceTime and Skype, the vast distances between us seeming not so vast anymore.

Six Weeks of Stavros

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 | Stavros, Travel | No Comments

Well I’m back home. Summer is finally over and it’s like… November? I remember as a kid the seemingly endless number of days between the end of summer and Christmas. Now the calendar pages fly by like in a montage from a 1930’s sentimental romance, interspersed with spinning headlines and scenes of speeding trains and planes crisscrossing the planet.

Stavros came back with me from Greece and stayed for two weeks in San Francisco. I dropped him off at the airport a few days ago, our six weeks together having gone by way too swiftly. Since our romance has been framed essentially by vacation time, we’ve avoided a lot of practical relationship considerations in favor of complex getaways to increasingly romantic locations. I wrote a little bit about our first few weeks in Greece last month, now I’m going to get you caught up on some of the highlights of our final days there.

My days in Greece numbered, Stavros and I took a little road trip to explore Messenia, in the southwestern Peloponnesos, visiting the sister Venetian castles of Koroni and Methoni, hopping the walls of Nestor’s Palace, swimming in one of the world’s most beautiful beaches in Voidokilia, walking in the footsteps of Jesse and Celine from Before Midnight in Pylos, hiking along the waterfalls at Polilimnio, and exploring the ruins of the classical era theaters and stadium at ancient Messini and the many Mycenaean tholos tombs in the area.

I and my buddies Giorgos, Tassos and Stefanos attended a delightful performance by André Maia one night, a fabulous Portuguese actor and singer, with special guest Nena Venetsanou, at the National Conservatory in Athens, part of the Petit Paris d’Athènes festival. They performed works by Eric Satie, Kurt Weill, Michel Legrand… an intimate celebration of French song, shared with a tiny little audience in the conservatory where Maria Callas learned to sing. Maia really belted them out, like a bearded Edith Piaf, sort of wrapping his whole little self around each song, arms thrown up in the air, head tossed back, at times reaching histrionically towards that light above the audience that such performers ofter reach towards before they fold their bodies in half and drop their mikes to the stage as the audience erupts in wild applause. Venetsanou’s performance was considerably less frenetic, but soulful and moving, nonetheless. She appeared, sat down, bent her head over her guitar and emoted, beautifully.

Stavros and I took a drive out to Lake Vouliagmeni on probably the coldest wettest day of the summer. Or, considering that this was in October, one could also say that it was probably one of the warmer, milder days of autumn. The lake is fed by underground currents seeping through Mount Hymettus, and maintains a constant 75 degree temperature, and little fish nibble at your feet, like in Korean spas, munching at and smoothing away dead skin cells. The setting is gorgeous, at the base of the mountain, overlooking the sea, so the cold and rain didn’t bother us. The fish did, though—at least me. When you enter the lake, they don’t move away like normal fish, they stay there, hovering around your feet, like, “Hey guys, here’s another giant snack.” Their constant nibbling really annoyed me, so I squirmed constantly while floating around. But Stavros loved it, giggling and squealing, providing a feast for the voracious micro-piranhas.

One of my favorite restaurants for traditional Greek fare is Bakalogatos, in Kypseli on Fokionos Negri. The restaurant offers takes on regional cuisines from all over Greece. Our bucatini with stewed goat and aged mizithra was one of the most memorable dishes I’ve experienced, the flavors and textures so perfectly balanced, the goat falling off the bone. Stavros looked at me as I was eating and, rolling his eyes, asked, “Are you going to cry again?”

My friend Panos swept me away one day for coffee talk at Terra Petra, a tony club in the hills surrounding Athens, and then to the Christian Boltanski show at the Onassis Cultural Center. Boltanski created an immersive installation using blown-up black and white images of the eyes (and noses) of 12 Greek citizens, printed on sheets and hung in rectangular configurations to create billowy rooms. The collective heartbeats of the 12 played softly in the background, while clocks ticked away, corresponding to the number of seconds of each person’s existence. There were no signifiers of age, character, fashion sensibilities… only eyes. (And noses.) Reducing their presence to eyes and heartbeats, their lives to passing moments, the installation was very moving, like we were in them, and while visually elegant, ultimately sad, the seconds of our lives tick ticking away…

Mykonos and Delos

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 | Stavros, Travel | No Comments

When I moved to San Francisco in the mid-80’s, Mykonos seemed to be on the lips of all globe-trotting homos of the previous generation. They’d return to San Francisco golden-hued, with their stories of nude beaches and dancing until dawn. Close to 30 years later, and at about the same age as those guys, I finally made it to Mykonos, this weekend with my little Stavros. I didn’t return with any golden hues, maybe a slightly pinker face, and it being October, no swimming, except for one Scandinavian skinny dipper. Off season there were fewer tourists, cheap hotels and places to sit for the sunset along the waterfront in Little Venice. The nightlife here is still great, or at least it sounded great, the thump thump thump of dance music all night blaring from even mom and pop convenience stores.

From Mykonos we took the boat to Delos, only about 20 or so minutes away. It’s where Artemis and Apollo were born, after Zeus got Leto pregnant. Zeus’s wife, Hera, forbid anyone on solid ground from helping her out, so Leto settled on Delos, which at the time wasn’t attached to the earth, a floating island.

Delos is near the geographic center of the Cyclades archipelago, and for a long time an important religious and political center, the meeting place of the Delian league, founded in the late 5th century BC, and the home of the Delian games. The island is a protected archeological site, and most of the ruins date from around 600 BC to the 2nd century AD. With no distracting contemporary structures, and so much of the town’s form and layout legible, one gets an incredible sense of what it was like to visit the island 2,600 years ago. The world’s oldest known synagogue is here, too. And it must have been the party island before Mykonos, judging from the many phallic representations and monuments to Silenus and Dionysos.

J Jump Joyful Jumble Around

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 | Art, Stavros, Travel | No Comments

Here I am, back in Greece. While the Republicans hold the nation hostage back home, I’m sipping ouzo and enjoying the last warm days of a summer that keeps extending itself further and further towards Christmas.

The day after I got here, Stavros and I drove down to our favorite beach in Schinias, almost the only people on the beach. While bobbing around in the surf, a stray dog emerged from the pine trees bordering the beach, causing a bit of panic as we thought the pooch was going to snarf our picnic items, but instead he sauntered slowly down to the water, wet its paws, one at a time, looked us over, and then returned to the pines.

There was a very interesting series of exhibits in Athens last week, ReMap 4. Participating artists created temporary installations in abandoned buildings, apartment units, and other public and private spaces in the Kerameikos-Metaxourgeio neighborhoods. Gagosian and Peres Projects hosted installations, converting their spaces, like neocolonialist ambassadors of culture, into temporary New York-like sleek gallery spaces. James Turrell’s light installation was set in a lovely old building, but any trace of place was eliminated by converting the room into a dark characterless cube, the single window in the room emanating slightly changing blurry colors from a frosted glass plate. Turrell claims that this work is about space and the light that inhabits it, but it’s not. It’s about TV, only blurry.

In Wyatt Kahn and Wesley Martin Berg’s installations in a 19th century apartment building, the space was left untouched, the crumbling details of the building–wall trim, mosaic floors, lovely old doors and windows–creating a visually charged domestic backdrop for their enigmatic and intriguing forms. Kahn makes polyagonal canvases that are bolted together into single rectangular picture planes. Berg presented sculptures and paintings based on a single hobo-like figure, each work formed from gloppy black neo-expressionist strokes. The confident messiness of their gestures seemed well-suited to the dilapidated beauty of the building.

In a newer, but also crumbling sort of utilitarian post-WWII apartment building, an artist created intriguing drippy brightly colored flat rectangles and circular forms on the stairway walls and hallway. I don’t know who did them, but the aesthetic seemed borne of the site and situation, just the type of art that belonged on those walls.

After ReMap, Stavros and I went to his cousin’s wedding. My first big fat Greek wedding! The service was very wordy, the priest addressing the bride and groom for what seemed like an eternity, loopy fabric rings placed on their heads at one point, lots of hand and ring kissing, the couple circling around the priest… At the reception after, I was forced to do that Greek dance that you see in the movies. I had studied the foot movements for several minutes prior, sure that at any moment I was going to be pushed onto the dance floor, and thought I discerned a footstep pattern and was already dancing in my head, but as soon as I was up there, I’m sure I looked like an idiot. But what the heck, it was really fun. I even discoed and ponied with Stavros’ mom and sister. Stavros’ mom asked him if I were available as prospective husband material for his sister. Not eager to tell his parents that I’m prospective husband material for their son, Stavros sidestepped the question in a way that led to further delightfully silly complications worthy of a Rock Hudson and Doris Day script.

The day after we drove to the Peloponnesos, to the mountains northeast of Corinth, after a little dip in the sea at Kiato. We visited the Zaraka Monastery ruins, built in 1225 by the Cistercians, one of the few examples of western gothic architecture in Greece. Winding through the lovely wine country, we made our way to Lake Stymphalia. This was the site of one of Hercules’ Labors, the slaying of the Stymphalian birds, or “the giant chickens” as Stavros calls them. These were man-eating birds with bronze beaks and poisonous metal feathers, pets of Ares, the god of war.

Driving through the mountains and dense pine forests, past the ruins of ancient Feneos, we visited an artificial lake, Lake Doxa, and to a monastery in the hills above, Agios Georgios. The monk-in-training invited us in to see the really wonderful 18th century byzantine paintings in the church, and then to come up for some “candy,” as Stavros translated. The monks make a rose jelly that our trainee offered us samples of, totally yummy, so we bought a few bottles and enjoyed his delightful company and the fabulous view from his terrace overlooking the valley and lake below.

From the monastery we continued our drive through the hills to the picturesque little village of Goura, named after a hero of the Greek War of Independence, whose house still stands there. We checked into a hotel built of stone, peaked heavy-beamed ceilings, wood paneling, our room overlooking the fertile plain below and mountains beyond. The only other tourists in town settled in the room right next to ours and generated exceptionally loud lovemaking sounds twice, the first time for about a minute late that night, the second time the next morning for a quick 5 seconds, a shrill “eee… eeeee… EEEEEEE!” The same couple also sat directly next to us at the only restaurant open this late in the season, our shared intimate squeaks and squeals acknowledged by a slight nod to each other as we checked out and headed back to Athens.

Words of (Texted) Love

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 | Stavros | No Comments

I woke yesterday morning to a text from Stavros telling me he loves me—15 months after we met, and a whole 9 months before the date that he predicted he could even consider uttering—although he didn’t really mention texting—such words. Excitedly, but afraid that he was already regretting his emotional discharge, I called him by FaceTime, masterfully concealing my excitement behind a facade of blasé musings about life in San Francisco. He was reading Pascal Bruckner’s Has Marriage for Love Failed? He just figured out he loves me and is already apprehensive about the shackles of marriage?

“At last,” he said, “someone shares my ideas about marriage.”

On my laptop I did a quick search for info about the book: Love has triumphed over marriage but now it is destroying it from inside… The collapse of the ideal of marriage for love is not necessarily a cause for remorse, because it demonstrates that love retains its subversive power. Love is not a glue to be put in the service of the institution of marriage: it is an explosive that blows up in our faces, dynamite pure and simple.

Destroying? Collapse? Remorse? Subversive? Glue? Explosive? Dynamite? I could see the appeal to Stavros, his intellect in constant turmoil with the obvious and incessant tugs at his heartstrings. Structure is something that we haven’t addressed very seriously. Could he already be thinking about what’s next—how to give form to these feelings that we each now share? Ever ready for my guest appearance on the Greek Love Boat, I just stared glassy-eyed at the beautious Greek staring back at me on my iPhone, a big happy smile on my face.

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Coco Auf Naxos: Tears und Joy in Koronos

Friday, June 7th, 2013 | Food, Stavros, Travel | No Comments

On the island of Naxos, in the Greek Cyclades, after visiting the giant kouros at Apollonas and on the road to Moutsouna, Stavros and I chanced upon a woman carrying a bag of very nice looking bread. Stavros, interested in procuring as many local products as possible, asked where she purchased her loaves and then we headed to find the bakery in Koronos, a town in the north central mountainous region of the island that we hadn’t really considered visiting, and even on entering, didn’t seem very interesting. Everything seemed closed, the village quiet and still. Stavros asked a man working on a construction project if he knew where the bakery was and if it were open. He said no, it was closed, but that he’d call Matina, the owner of the bakery, and have her open it for us. She quickly appeared and led us up and down the wiggly stairways of the hillside village to her bakery. The cavernous, ancient oven was still warm. For 2€ we purchased one of the last tire-sized loaves of her delicious bread.

Trying to find our way back up the hill on the white steps, past blue-trimmed white house after blue-trimmed white house, we tumbled into a square that seemed like a film set: colorful vine-covered arbors, blooming flowers everywhere, chirping birds, live music… and a taverna called Matina Stavros–a different Matina from the baker, and not my particular Stavros. We settled down at a table on a platform under a tweeting parakeet and near a large group of ebullient middle-aged women from Athens who were visiting a friend in the village. They danced the entire time they ate, taking only a few breaks to fill their plates with Matina’s delicious food. At one point Matina joined in the dancing, and then their bus driver. They even danced over to our table at one point and screamed “Welcome! Enjoy your time in Greece! And this magnificent day! And this magnificent food!” Indeed the food was scrumptious: a selection of homemade cheeses and wine, tender roasted lamb just falling off the bone, dolmadaki flavored with local spices, spanakopita with thick leaves of filo, a salata horiatiki with soft cheese, also homemade… I looked at Stavros and burst into tears.

I still don’t know why I started crying, why so swiftly overwhelmed with emotion. Since my sister’s death, I’ve been walking around with a cloud of sadness hanging over me, but I usually cry in response to things specifically related to her. I had no clue. I tend to get weepy again thinking of the pleasure that I saw on the faces of these women, their easy unrestrained passionate love of life and food and music and each other. The food was simple, homemade, but each plate was perfect, each ingredient lovingly chosen, grown, or hand-crafted. There was the man of my dreams sitting across from me. We were sitting on a stage set in the mountains of an island in the Cyclades. Everything was cinematically pitched towards perfection, but somehow an idea of impermanence, the ephemeral nature of pleasure, maybe, crept over me. I’ve found someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with, but we spend a few weeks together and then months apart. I want to be in this movie always. These ladies were in the moment, and living it as fully as they could. Perhaps I let my such moments get interrupted by a need for something more, something out of reach. Perhaps I was melancholy that I couldn’t share this moment with my sister. Thinking about that day, tears still come to my eyes, but with a new-found appreciation of what’s actually on my plate, while it’s still there anyway.

The Mani

Monday, June 3rd, 2013 | Stavros, Travel | 2 Comments

Stavros and I spent the weekend in the Mani, a small peninsula protruding from the southwest corner of the Peloponnesus. It’s a rugged area, rocky and mountainous. Once densely populated, now there are only about 5,000 year-round inhabitants. The architecture is all stone, mostly towers and castle-like structures, most long abandoned. There used to be “blood feuds” here, with one family attacking another until the defeated family gave up and accepted the conditions of the winning family. Hence a lot of bombed out towers. The Mani people were very independent, and embraced Christianity late, in the 9th century or so, and were even given autonomy during Ottoman rule. After the revolution against the Turks (which actually began in the Mani) the Mani-ites were unable to adjust to the new restrictions of the regime that they helped usher in and dispersed from the area, hence the dwindling population. Actually, the guy who started the revolution here ended up being imprisoned by the first president of Greece, and then his brothers took revenge and assassinated the president!

We drove directly to Kalamata from Athens, and then slowly down the west coast road through Kardamyli to Neo Oitylo, on Limeni Bay. We stayed in the Afrodite (the goddess of love, beauty and pleasure!) Suite at the Selena Studios, a charming hotel with outstanding views overlooking the bay and the soft brown stone towers of the town of Limeni on the other side of the bay.

The next day we wandered around the southern tip of the peninsula, starting in Areopolis, down the west coast road to Vathia. Vathia is a scenic hilltop village of crumbling stone towers overlooking the Messenian Gulf. Many of the towers were restored and a few seem to be inhabited, but a plan to restore the town as a tourist destination was abandoned in the 90s, and it now feels like a sort of stone ghost town, but with wildflowers blooming everywhere. After Vathia, we continued on to Porto Kagio for a delicious lunch on the pristine bay, then Point Tenero, and up the east Mani road to Lagia and Flomochori.

We took a different route back to Athens, via Gythio, tucked into the northeast corner of the Mani. There’s an ancient Roman theater there, which unfortunately I didn’t read about in my crappy guidebook and missed. Gythio was once the seaport of Sparta, but was destroyed in the 4th century A.D. It’s now the largest city in the Mani, with a charm quite different from the rest of the region: no stone towers and lots of people. We had a fantastic lunch of fried fish, marinated octopus, Greek salads and ouzo.

For our next trip, Stavros and I are off to Naxos, where Theseus abandoned Ariadne. Her fate wasn’t that bad: Dionysos swung by and married her. But then Perseus killed her. Or she hanged herself. Dionysos then descended into the underworld and brought her back, along with his mother (this is a Greek story) and they all settled down on Olympus. What adventure awaits us on Naxos??

Mount Pelion, Metéora and the Pindus Mountains

Monday, May 27th, 2013 | Stavros, Travel | No Comments

Last week Stavros and I took a little road trip to Mount Pelion, Metéora and the Pindus Mountains of central Greece. We started our trip in the most unbelievably picturesque little village of Portaria, on Mount Pelion, the home of the Centaurs. Each little square, overlooking the Pagasetic Gulf, is shaded by 8′ diameter plane trees, mountain spring water spurting out of fountains and burbling down the hillsides everywhere… There’s not just an occasional whiff of wild flowers, there is a constant intoxicating aroma of honeysuckle, jasmine, roses and, of course, the ubiquitous bouquet of souvlaki. Like characters in a Disney film, we hopped from town to town, nibbling on and imbibing various local products, past wild horses and mooing cows, hiked along meandering streams, singing our happy tune.

An old steam engine train runs from Ano Lehonia to Milies, through the lush mountainous Pelion region. The track is only 2 feet wide, almost a toy train. Evaristo de Chirico, Giorgio’s dad, was chief engineer on the construction of the railroad. Little Giorgio grew up here, and images of the trains and arched stone bridges of the area figured into Giorgio’s paintings later on.

Metéora, which translates to something like “suspended in the air” is a complex of Eastern Orthodox monasteries built on natural sandstone pillars. A group of hermit monks took up residence in the ancient pinnacles in the 9th century, living in hollows and fissures in the rock towers, some of which reach 1,800 feet high. By the late 11th and early 12th centuries, a rudimentary monastic state had formed. More than 20 monasteries were built over the years. Only 6 remain today. Remnants of Byzantine frescoes can be seen in the various churches, as well as newer frescoes painted in the Byzantine style.

The Pindus Mountains form the backbone of Greece, running south from the Albanian border to just north of the Peloponnesus. We visited many quaint villages, winding our way up and down steep mountain roads past white water streams, a centuries-old monastery tucked at the base of a mountain, more wild horses, more lovely arched stone bridges…

If Stavros and I ever tie the knot, it’s going to be hard to figure out where to have our honeymoon, as I can’t imagine anything more honeymooney than our adventures thus far.

Ancient Corinth

Friday, May 17th, 2013 | Stavros, Travel | No Comments

Everywhere you go, it’s like corinthian columns, corinthian columns, corinthian columns… Stavros and I drove to Corinth this week to visit the ruins of the ancient city and acropolis. Two six-foot long green snakes slithered past us on the acropolis, reminding me of so many tales from antiquity involving oracles, enchantresses, heroic deeds and tragedy. Our trip wasn’t defined by such grand dimensions, thank Zeus, just me, back in Greece, and Stavros, back at my side.

The previous week we visited the 11th century Dafní monastery in Chaidari. Extensive damage from an earthquake in 1999 is currently being restored, and because of the restoration we were able to ascend the scaffolding up into the dome to see the mosaics up close. Fabulous.

We also visited the Sanctuary of Demeter in Eleusis, on the site where Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility, found her daughter Persephone after she had been kidnapped by Hades. Important initiation ceremonies were held there every year for their cult. Because Persephone had eaten a few pomegranate seeds while in the underworld, she had to return every year, one month for each seed. Her mother’s sadness during the time that Persephone was in the underworld resulted in a neglect of the earth, but when Persephone returned to the surface in the spring, Demeter would get all happy and turn her attention back to agricultural and fertilizing activities. Hence the seasons. The king at the time helped Demeter, and in gratitude, Persephone gave his son the first grains of wheat and showed him how to harvest crops. Wheat grows wild all around the sanctuary today.

Stavros is my own Persephone, rising from the abyss of Greek austerity to spend another blissful month at my side.

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