Rhythms in the village

Turkish village people live their lives according to a very definite rhythm. As I was standing on our terrace this evening looking onto the village houses below, I noticed that all of their home fires started burning at about the same time. They go to bed relatively early (but not usually “with the chickens”) and they all get up and can usually be seen moving out of their houses after 7 am…

The goat herder (çoban) Hassan and his mother Emine teyze (which means my aunt in Turkish), have a certain and definite time to move their goats from higher to lower foraging. Hassan takes them up to an ancient Lycian site called Phellos a bit above our place in the morning and brings them down around noon. Then Emine teyze takes them to lower areas in the valley and brings them back close to dusk. The goats are like not so well-behaved children but seemingly easily manageable for this mother and her son.

Goats are a fact of village life as every village has them. There is at least one herder in each village and their foraging creates an ecological mess of the foliage which has taken its toll on the Turkish countryside over the centuries. If you do not fence your property, the goats will eat almost anything available. Trees cannot grow tall because they eat the young saplings and shrubbery, which will grow several meters when left alone, barely survives. Goats are cute I admit, but, I cannot get out of my mind the image of an “eating machine” when I see one.

As the day dies the voices of the villagers get softer in anticipation of the night falling over the valley. Perhaps it is just because of moving indoors for the evening meal and a time to rest or perhaps it is in respect for the spirits which inhabit the night, or it could be both. Even the wind respects the night and although it is not often windy where we live, it can whip up a breeze in the afternoons. When evening falls a blanket of silence starts to descend as if it is what wraps around the entity we call night and darkens the sky with its thick covering. The silence can be deafening. The ordinary household sounds take on a whole new significance. After some time the refrigerator sounds like a truck passing by and a remote-controlled stereo waiting its signal to awaken hums like a cloud of bees in the room. Sitting in the dark and listening to the silence is an awakening experience and has a Zen property to it which puts us in awe of the power of nature.

Another day in the life of the village…

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