Harding University in Greece
We journey into northern Greece today, passing cotton fields which make me think of my home state of Mississippi and my family there. Also in my view are numerous silvery olive and dark green cypress trees shooting into the sky, orange berry “fire” shrubs line the roadway, hillside clusters of sugar cube houses with terra-cotta rooftops, and rugged Mount Parnassos; so I know that I’m not exactly in the Mississippi nor the Arkansas delta. The same blue skies reign, but everything below them is different.
On our way up into the mountains, we stop at the cliffside village of Arachova, in which we feel transported back in time a couple of generations. We see tiled rooftops up close, staircases twisting and connecting the old shops and other buildings that are still being painted and repaired by their shopkeepers, and the plummeting views of the valley below the town. A local sweet, a bite-sized round dough made with orange and almond extract and dipped in powdered sugar, is a tasty citrus treat.
We listen to a handful of stories of Greek mythology, introducing us to the reputation of life and happenings at ancient Delphi. After touring the site, the museum spouts air conditioning and, more importantly, statues and columns and other goodies from inside the Temple of Apollo, the Treasuries, and other buildings from the ancient days.
Curvy roads take us back to the lower valley. Pine trees, an occasional fig tree, and the Gulf of Corinth are in my view. From above, the olive trees look like shrubs. Back down, I notice a slight breeze that makes their silver leaves dance. The olive tree is a staple in the Mediterranean region, and it’s become my favorite noticeable tree in Greece. Because of what it means to the Athenians and the people in the entire region, it will always be special to me. There is a big piece of olive wood that I (meaning my willing, strong, and sacrificial husband) lugged across the ocean recently, that can be described as a huge cutting board; it’s in the middle of my kitchen table in Searcy. It anchors the napkin holder, the salt and pepper shakers, a morning devotional book, a favorite piece of McCarty pottery, and a memento from my Grandaddy’s house—my everyday kitchen things. Like these years with my family in Greece, the olive wood in the middle of my table, will stay with me, reminding me of how special this land has become in my life—no matter where my kitchen table happens to reside.
Tonight calls for adventure. We anticipate a walk and/or jog with the bulk of the students. But what a surprise when we run upon a celebration for the saint who is the namesake of the local town! Strolling through cute towns and catching a parade in one of them is the perfect ending to the first day of this semester's first group trip together.