Scarlet Vineyards

Leaving Lake Stymphalia, we drive to Psari (Ψάρι) where a series of hikes begin at the village church and descend into the valley among olive groves and vineyards.

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Where the path curves, we take a short detour to Saint Dimitrios (‘Αγιος Δημήτριος), a tiny chapel surrounded by a low wall and towering cypress.

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Passing through the stone archway, the cypress grove silences the wind and shades the horizon, creating a deep and heavy quiet. I feel a vibration in the stillness and I wonder if there may have been an ancient temple beneath the foundations of the church, continuing the tradition of worship in this place over the centuries.

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Returning to the path, we continue our hike through the “Scarlet Vineyard” - a collection of vineyards which grow on land that has been cultivated for nearly 3,000 years. It appears several of the vineyards are abandoned, grapes left to shrivel on the vine as offerings to either Dionysos or the birds, I’m not sure.

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Storm clouds continue to form and dissipate, creating prisms on the horizon: a rainbow rises from the mountain peak. Rain comes and goes in soft drizzles, brightening the scarlet leaves on the vines.

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As we near the village, the fresh autumn aroma of the decaying earth is replaced by a stench of refuse: plastic, garbage, and metal rots among the trees. Our guide tells us that trash is simply thrown by locals off of the nearest cliffs, despoiling the forest along the trail.

After the beauty of the hike, this comes as a gross reminder of the disconnected ways humans relate to the land. Over three thousand years of relationship with this valley and humans have not yet learned that Artemis’s wrath is growing on the horizon.

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