An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Force of nature? Force of destiny?

You might have heard of the flooding here in the last days. Major flooding that started on Monday night was done by Wednesday and Thursday, although wet, was more promising. Friday dawned bright and dry with few clouds in the sky - just in time for the big event.

With hindsight, Tuesday was the big weather day: the day when cows were washed out to sea: the morning when the local petrol station forecourt turned into a lake nearly two metres deep: the day when topsoil washed off of hillsides and sloping land by the hundredweight; by the truckload: the day when roads disappeared under foot deep mud slides; mud that used to be field banks; the day that rivers burst their banks and reverse tsunamis flooded beaches and the sea.

Through Thursday lakes were to be found in fields and on roads: lakes were everywhere; a waterworld. Basements were being pumped: fountains of water exiting buildings and trying to find somewhere to run but simply settling for raising levels in extant temporary lakes. Boats needed where only trucks were to be had. Standing water everywhere. And pumped water meeting still water. A lake in front of the town hall and over to the bakery on the other side of the road that looked like a little simulacrum of Mont St Michel.

People and animals died. The damage is huge - and expensive. The area has been declared an emergency zone - a disaster zone. The people however have their chins up and we go about the process of cleaning up - temporarily and permanently. For now it is houses and commercial building being cleaned up. The beach - that looks now like the aftermath of a war - will have to wait.

And for us? How was it? Six continuous hours of mopping staved off all but the most minor, trivial, minor of depredations. But the farm? Another matter. Now that the ground has begun to dry we have been able to venture out and down to the river's edge. Or where the river's edge used to be. It is clear, at first sight, that some devastating force of nature has been at work here. The river that is our boundary kinks at the eastern limit of the fields beyond the olive grove, beyond the lavender plots. And it performs the same kink in reverse some 170 or 180 metres to the south of us 3 fields further up the valley. The sheer volume of water rushing down from the mountains, at some point ignored these kinks and flushed across in direct line. Judging by the clothing and debris in the mulberry trees a wall of water perhaps 2 and a half metres high came through the field ignoring the existing river bed: going its own way.

Bamboo plants have been ripped out: mature bamboo, and flushed who knows where. A carpet of boulders covers the alluvial bed that covers the area. Boulders from the river bed we presume: thinly covering the soil in our field; more thickly next door and thicker still, hiding the earth completely, where the breech began, in the field where they willfully cleared the bamboo bank cover last winter. Plegma fences have bent at 90 degrees in the horizontal plane before giving way and being flushed away, sheets of plegma hang on the trees and in the river bed: irretrievable. Branches and roots and uprooted plants have woven themselves around the bases of the olive trees and the geodesic dome which itself is a displaced structure. Beneath the boulders a fine light sand bed sits, showing in the wonderful swirls and tracks the path that this force of nature drew across the field.

Along the boundary moving north this wall this very torrent must have undercut the bank - quickly we think, for a chasm has opened where a huge stand of bamboo and a walnut tree stood as recently as last weekend. A yawning emptiness gapes now 12 feet down into where the river bed has disappeared under horizontal bamboo and perhaps one third of the land that slipped out of our field and back to nature.

Tomorrow the clean up has to begin. Before the next rains. Before the sheep come through and eat the lavender. Makeshift repairs for now. And in the long term? We do not know.


  1. Congratulations on fitting in your Creative Writing Course assignment between moppings. A for effort in the circumstances, but do watch those semi-colons.

  2. Well, I didn't notice the semi-colons when I read it the first time. I wanted to make a comment and ask a few questions and then saw the post above, so I went back to find the offending punctuation. They're just in the second paragraph, 4 colons and 3 semi-colons—again, not something that bothered me. And I'm generally fussy.

    But papz, tell me please—what are plegma fences, or what is plegma, I'm unfamiliar with the term.

    What would be nice for me, since I've seen the lavender circles from space via Google, is to see the Google map of the lavender way with some notes and delineations on it. Show the river before and after the deluge. When you have time, that is. You'll be devoting yourself to hard labor and cleanup, so not to worry about my curiosity.

    And I wish you the best in your new lives together, yet still on the same path, and in the work that now confronts you.

  3. Sounds like an umpleasant experience, not to mention all the hard work required to clear up afterwards, but glad to know that you're both safe and well, and that it didn't spoil the other happy event.

    BTW, I would pay little attention to the self-appointed style guru and literary critic who passes himself of as 'derek'(sic), since he is unaware, apparently, that good style requires that proper names commence with a capital letter.

    Despite the fact that 'derek' describes himself in his profile as a "Writer with a capital 'W'", his blog demonstrates the same vacuity and emptiness as the space between his ears.

    Another measure of his lack of creative success is the fact that he describes his metier as 'non-profit'!

    In other words, I suspect that 'derek' is just another would-be-wanna-be dissatisfied Brit abroad who thinks he's playing a very clever game.

  4. see