Today has been rather an odd one. It started with a vague plan to tidy then discover a beach we’d never been to before and it wasn’t long before than plan was happily allowed to slide. The tidying got done, along with several lots of washing, the mundane stuff never stops as this isn’t a hotel we’re staying in. It wasn’t done in a rush though and we’d had a relatively late start for once. But then the boys decided they wanted to go to the pool and off they all went giving me 5 minutes quiet before joining them.
It seems like I haven’t really got off the treadmill properly for almost a year. Since last August I have been chopping and changing my hours between full and part time with only Christmas in-between, plus a great deal of uncertainty over whether my job would be made permanent. A lot of the time I have felt like I’ve been chasing my tale and failing miserably at the juggling of work, school, family etc. So a lazy day isn’t something I’ve even thought about or taken advantage of for ages. Turns out that it was exactly what we all needed.
It’s been an odd sort of a day. I’d decided I wanted a proper day off so no cooking. I’d spent an hour preparing ifthar last night and missed out on pool time with the boys; by the time it was all cleared away and they’d left for teravi namaz at the local mosque, I was simply too tired to go for the night swim I longed for–one of the blissful luxuries of being here in summer. M was fairly understanding and agreed to get us all pide for lunch, plodding off with the boys demanding Cheetos hot on his heels, as I enjoyed the final half hour before the pool closed for its 2 hour lunch break. Well, I would have but Smelly was soon back calling me to sit with them in the site garden while M went to get pide and they scoffed their enormous bags of Cheetos and played “I’m the king of the castle” on the strange concrete seating structures.
For the first time in ages I started to feel really relaxed, even though Lai lai decided he would stand at the top of the object wobbling precariously as he delved deep into the bottomless bag for more cheesy snacks.
I make no excuses, or attempt to hide, the difficult relationship I have with this country. Yet that doesn’t mean I am totally blind to the good things, and the beauty. So often it has had the effect of leaving me worn out with stress that I can’t see beyond the negative. Today though, was not one of those days. When we sit in the garden of our site I do manage to look up to the sky, always a sign that I am relaxing. There is enough open space here to shed the feeling I used to get in Ankara – of being closed in by all the high rise apartments, and since the sea is directly ahead there is only open sky here. Mersin, when away from the blocks, always appears to be in bloom, whether orange and lemon blossoms in spring, to oleander, jasmine, gardenia, bougainvillaea and much more in summer. Even in winter the evening air is filled with the scent of some flower or other. Today though it was the bougainvillaea I noticed the most. This garden seems to have a plethora and I have never seen it in so many shades and colours.
Looking over at what appeared to be one tree, but clearly not, there just seemed to be a rainbow of bougainvillaea. It seemed to be begging to have a photo taken and, yet again, set me wishing I actually had a decent camera and an eye for a good photo in the same way friends of mine do. Then looking down at the ground, the fallen petals caught my eye and felt like the ground was carpeted with them.
Seeing that I was captivated by the flowers, the boys started to pick some of the bunches that had clearly been pulled off by others at some point and left on the ground. I ended up walking back to the flat with my bag bursting with pink blooms.
The boys had also been busy picking the yet to ripen lemons from the trees in the garden. Another thing that is forbidden, understandably so but some must come and get a few when they are ripe. Lai lai seems to be obsessed with picking fruit after his adventures at the yayla, whereas Fatso fell in love with the lemons last year. He only picked one last year but it went to bed with him and became and important part of his life. So this year once again he has a lemon in his bed, as does Lai lai now too. I managed to stop them when they got to 6 or so and they found a game of cooking them in the ‘oven’ which was a little cave under the concrete thing they’d been playing on top of before. All of this happening while M was still off getting the lunch. It might be around 35 degrees here now, but the garden has plenty of shade and is blessed by a cool breeze that comes down from the mountains, unlike the rest of the city where the interminable blocks have been built with little planning and act as barriers to the breeze that would cool the city in the not too distant past. So we enjoyed our lunch after M returned, while everyone else had retreated to their flats, as did we soon after with our little harvest of illicit lemons.
The boys rejected a siesta, which we try to encourage in summer here, as it so hot and far more bearable in the evenings. I had one though, my first this year and much needed. So the boys played and watched TV, normally something I restrict but this was my lazy day too after all.
Smelly was keen to do some cooking, so I managed to persuade M to let him help make green beans while I escaped the nightly chore of making ifthar. I may enjoy cooking but having to do it night after night deadens the pleasure somewhat and ifthar is a pressure all of it’s own. Smelly was a star and with M’s help, made a cracking pan of zeytin yagli yesil fasulye (green beens in olive oil). While M prepared the rest of ifthar, we dashed to the pool for 45 minutes before the ezan called. We’d forgot Fatso’s swimming shoes, so after a small crisis there was a fun game of catching them as M threw them to the ground from the 14th floor.
I’m glad we didn’t explore the beach today, I’m glad we did pretty much nothing, as it’s given me the opportunity to see the things I do enjoy about being here again. But as I said, it’s been a funny day, perhaps because I’m having little pangs of homesickness. While last year I was glad to be here and avoiding the wettest summer on record, this year it’s the total opposite. It’s not that often that a whole summer can be pretty much spent outdoors in the UK, so it feels I’m missing something pretty special. But I’m here, things are good, and I’m looking up to the sky again, so……mustn’t grumble.