Fortadels and Citruses

A memoir of Greece thirty years ago, when I was younger and less informed, when I had first fallen in love. After a vacation trip to Greece, I returned to Washington, quit my job at VOA, sold the house, and took my three daughters - Irene 11, Kathleen 10, and Rosalind 6 - back with me. We discovered Nauplion, where we lived for two years.

These essays were written then and just after we returned to the States. They are about a world thirty years ago: much has changed, economically and socially, and some of the places dear to us no longer exist or are nearly unrecognizeable. Frescos which lasted for 500 years have been eaten by mold because a priest put air-tight doors and windows on the church. A place of pilgrimage, old to Pausanias, has been destroyed because its sacred spring has been channelled into irrigation. Fortresses where we climbed freely are now barricaded shut; others charge admission. Friends have died or moved away. Our house has been replaced by a more practical, less interesting, apartment building. The baby-blue helix of the Hotel Otto has long since been painted white, printed cotton curtains replaced with red brocade. The public oven where we took our dinners to be cooked has been replaced by a bank where you can get money with your Visa card. Nauplion, once favored by academics and back-packers, has been discovered by Euro-trash. We would not now be able to afford to live there, but the two years between the summer of 1977 and the summer of 1979 were uncomparable, and my gratitude to Nauplion and Naupliots unbounded.

The title comes from a series of guidebooks - Citadels and Fortresses, useless, but enthralling.

I. Homecoming

II. House

III. Christmas

IV. St. Anastasios of Nauplion

V. Lent, Easter

VI. Mycenean Polytope, or, Greek Theater

VII. December 1978

VIII. Byzantine Cities

IX. Byzantium in the Argolid

X. Death

XI. Sherds

XII. Syntagma Square

What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands
What water lapping the bow
And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog
What images return
O my daughter.

T. S. Eliot