It was cold and grey this morning, not a dash of colour in the sky when I looked out of my office window. Lisa had woken me with enthusiastic licks to the face, but after being walked and fed had gone back to sleep on the couch. Sitting with my cup of tea, I knew the only thing for it was to get outside. We could go somewhere colourful, like the path to Lethra. Lisa leapt up and down as I took her down to the car, then poked her head out the window and into the wind as we drove down to the start of the path.
Owning a dog in Tilos is not as easy as I’d thought, because of the animals roaming free everywhere. Over the winter, the goats and sheep give birth, and Lisa, who loves to chase them, has to be kept on a lead. Even then, I’ve been shouted at regularly in Megalo Horio for taking her anywhere near animals, though she can't do much harm on a lead; and you never know where the animals are going to be. So a trip to a different path felt like a good idea.
Over on our side of the island, to the north, all the fields are covered in anemones these days, and pretty gorgeous they are. But it almost came as a surprise to find, at the entrance to the path to Lethra, such an abundance of cyclamen scattered over the ground, all over the sides of the path and the hillside. By the time we reached the pink rocks around the spring, the colour was back in February and a smile on my face.
I longed to let Lisa run free, but didn’t dare, and hoped it was good training for her. She’d pull ahead; I’d tell her ‘siga’ and ‘perimeneh’, so she’d stop in the middle of the path, until I inched towards her, when she’d pull ahead again and I’d lose my footing. Mark Twain famously said that golf was a good walk spoiled, but perhaps if he’d ever had to walk an ebullient dog on a lead down a precarious path, he’d have agreed it comes a close second. Lisa would probably comment that anyone who stops to crouch down and point a phone at some flowers every few minutes doesn’t really understand what walks are supposed to be about.
We clambered over the headland a little to the narrow gap between the land and Donkey Island. Almost three years living on this island, and this grey February morning I was seeing it from new angles.
Later, back at the car, I realised it would be a good idea to head into Livadia to buy vegetables and cheese while I was nearby. Lisa always gets terribly excited as we descend to Livadia, but it was a disappointment for her on the whole: hardly a soul about. We picked out what we needed from the supermarket; Pavlos the bus driver was in there complaining about the state of tomatoes at this time of year; I reminded myself not to think about the high cost of food here, having just come back from London and Athens. Lisa was happy outside, being petted by one of the boys from the village.
She’d have liked to stay and chase cats, but Livadia feels forlorn to me out of season. I drove back instead to Megalo Horio, which looks solid and timeless in the winter, clinging to the hillside. We got stuck behind a man trundling along on a scooter, but I didn’t bother overtaking, just slowed down and stroked my faithful hound and looked around me.