Sheeps, Ships, & Sunflowers

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seajets ferry passing makronisos after leaving port of lavrio
Ferries traveling through the straight after leaving Lavrio.

In Greece, among English speaking people, the words sheeps and ships are often interchanged. A ship becomes a “sheep” and a sheep becomes a “ship.” Lambs become “lamps.” I have often giggled and laughed and made up sayings about the ships going down to the sea to board the sheeps, bringing along the lamps with them. Here in Spiliazeza, with our view of sheeps and ships during the day, the pronunciation errors came to mind.

Then there were the sunflowers, but there is no pronunciation error with those. Nevertheless, all three were a significant part of the day here, today. First, the Ships:

SeaJet Ferries Launch

From what I understand, today was the first day of the season for the SeaJet line of Ferries to begin their routes out of the Port of Lavrio for the 2022 season. Two of them made it loud and clear as they passed by the coast of Spiliazeza about half an hour out of the port in Lavrio. I could hear horns blasting – and my companion heard them as well. We went out to look to see what it was and could see two ferry boats passing through the Straight Of Makronisos, right in front of our vision.

As I listened to the ship’s horns blare, I giggled a little inside and wondered if these sounds would “trigger” some of the residents of Ottawa who claim to be “traumatized” by the sounds of truck horns.

I grabbed my camera and took a few photos – I won’t bore you with the ones that were not great, but one of the better ones of the two ferry boats:

two seajet ferries travelling together throut straight of makronisos from lavrio port

The two ferries were traveling side by side for a while, and then one dropped behind the other as they started to change direction, with the smaller one hugging the coast line and the other heading off in a more easterly direction.

My companion, Kyriaki, did some research and ascertained that both ferries had left Lavrio, Greece at about 3PM. One was heading up to Kavala, Greece – port in the north east, while the other was heading to the Island of “Agios Efstratios,” a remote island in the northern Aegean north of Lesvos.

It was relayed to me that the ferry to Kavala would take about 14 hours, while the one to Agios Efstratios would arrive in about 7 hours.

In 2020, we had gone up to Thassos Island and drove. We could have stopped at Kavala to take a ferry to Thassos, but we continued on further to get a shorter ferry from Keramoti. More about our trip to Thassos Island here.

The Ships, Err Sheeps and Lamps Of Spiliazeza

Shortly after the ferries had passed by, I heard the sounds of bells – livestock bells, which I know well from my days of a ranch hand in Alberta and dairy farm hand in Ontario as a teenager. I also have a “cow bell” which has been great when camping to notify others that dinner or something is ready. Around here, I know that the sounds most likely mean …ships… lamps, or better known to us English speaking folk as, sheep!

I looked up and saw a big herd of sheep, about 150 metres up the road away from the house. The sheep were grazing in vacant plots of land, and it reminded me of various parts of my land of birth, Northern Ireland, where we’d often see herds of sheep grazing and being herded along and across roads. I still had the zoom lens on the camera and thought I’d try to get a few quick shots while the sheep were close about:

sheep grazing near houses in spiliazeza

The photo doesn’t do the size of the herd justice though. There were a lot of sheep. I have seen them far in the distance at various times, but not this close, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a different herd, with a different shepherd, about 3 km away. I’ve often mused that if I could talk Greek to the shepherd, I could maybe source some fresh lamb’s milk, meat, and perhaps wool which would be kind of cool.

After a while, I spotted the Shepherd.

Now, this is a young, modern day Greek Shepherd – sporting a backpack, and at times I noticed he had a mobile phone. Up in Central Greece, the shepherds I ran into were more… traditional. No backpacks. A long wooden shepherd’s staff. And no use for cell phones because they wouldn’t even work in many of the parts they are shepherding their ships… err sheep and lamps. But here in Spiliazeza:

shepherd in Spiliazeza greeze with some sheep

It is true you can’t see his mobile phone, but you can see his backpack and more modern clothing compared to other shepherds I’ve seen. You also can’t see his mobile phone, but he does have one – I noticed it through the lens of my zoom camera at 300 mm… but didn’t take photos of that.

Regardless of his age, modern clothing, and use of mobile phone, he’s still carrying out shepherd duties in a very traditional way here in Greece. His sheep are well looked after, with a careful eye, and allowed to get exercise while munching on various herbs, grasses, flowers, and moving through in a way to not remove everything from one spot.

The Sunflowers

About two weeks ago, at the local garden centre, Kyriaki had mentioned she’d like to have sunflowers. So, we bought two packages of sunflower seeds. They could have gone into the ground that day, but I still had some work to do in the vegetable garden and flower beds, and was unsure where they would be suitable. So, Kyriaki planted them in little seed pots – her first time ever doing anything like that!

In the past several days, a good number of the seeds had sprouted and had started to grow strongly:

sunflower sprouts

Today, it was time to plant about 10 of them! I decided that Kyriaki should plant the first couple herself – and we chose a spot on the east side of the garden right up against an “outbuilding” that has housed chickens, goats, and who knows what else in the history of this place. Anyway, it would get lots of sun and protection from the wind. And so there it is – Kyriaki’s first planting of anything she has grown from seed herself!

I can remember the first time as a child, planting seeds and then looking after them and watching them grow – and how exciting and fulfilling it was. Then I tried to share that with all my children over the years. I’ve still not lost that joyous feeling of watching as seeds sprout, and become bigger plants – whether or not they need to be transplanted or not.

But on this day, it was Sheeps, Ships, and finally Sunflower transplanting!

sunflower sprout transplanted
Kyriaki planting her first sunflower that she started from seed.

Anyway, it was a great day here in Spiliazeza, and not just ships, sheeps, lamps, and sunflowers, but seeing some other things sprout, and plans for where we’ll put the rest of the 20 sunflowers, and thinking a day trip to the island of Kea might be something cool to do now that the ferries from Lavrio are running, and COVID restrictions are being removed.

But if you’re in Greece, and someone is talking to you about ships, sheeps, and lamps, you might want to think a bit about what they are trying to communicate 🙂

Happy Easter to you! We’ll be celebrating “Orthodox Easter” next week. With roasting ships. I mean, roasting lamps. On the barbecue.

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