Pamukkale

In the farming community of Central Turkey, when a child is born, the Turks plant Poplar trees to celebrate the arrival of the baby. As the child grows, so do the trees. Around 20 years of age, when the child is now an adult and old enough to need money for education/marriage/anything else, the trees are cut, the log is sold and money is obtained. When I was told this story, I tried to imagine what would happen if we planted trees at the arrival of a baby, back home in India.

I’m just a few hundred meters away from the Aegean Sea. I can see it from my window. From the Arabian Sea to the Aegean Sea it has been 7 long days of fascination. That yesterday was spent in being driven across the country, and in sleeping because of a “self-limiting disorder” is something that I am grateful for. I needed that sleep. As we drove towards Kusadasi, the types of trees became varied and much more prevalent. It was Farmville all over again.

Turkey is the second largest olive producing country in the world. And Western Turkey abounds with olive trees. They’re present in everywhere you look. It is said that the oldest olive tree here is 1500 years old. (No, that’s not a typo.) Olive trees have incredible longevity and their benefits are aplenty. Greek mythology says that Olive is a fruit that came from the Gods. When the people of Athens – a then-unnamed city – decided to give the city a name, they approached the Gods. The people told the Gods that whoever gives them the most wonderful gift, will be the God/Goddess after which the city would be named. All the Gods tried their best, but in the end only Athena and Poseidon were final contenders. Athena gifted the people an olive tree whereas Poseidon gave them a great fountain. However, since Poseidon was the God of the Sea, the water of the fountain was salty. The people said that they had no use for salty water, and chose Athena’s gift to be the most wonderful of all. Since then, that city is known as Athens and olive has been a food sent by a Goddess. It’s amazing how many trees I’ve seen on this trip. Starting from Chinar then Linden and today, I have seen trees of olive, pomegranate, mandarin, tangerine, peach, fig, and apricot. I can’t remember the last time I went to a place that had so many trees sprawled all over. I also plucked an olive or two.

I really like how Mother Earth provides so much to us and how the weather influences habits and clothing. We’re not always cognizant of how powerful nature is, and how it effectively controls how we live. Poets take nature very seriously, and poetry is the most beautiful form of expression and even communication. Some connection there. A worthy one at that.

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