My grandfather's snores sounded like a true believer marching off to war. Each snore was like a confident crashing step and so rhythmic you could set the seconds hand of your watch by it. Not the second hand of a watch, the seconds. The windows in the old farmhouse would quiver from the noise but they never cracked or broke.
When my brother and I were small we slept overnight or took our afternoon naps after climbing the narrow dark stairway into the large well lighted bedroom at the top of the stairs . Grandma and Grandpa slept in the room next door on the east side of the house.
I remember being startled by Grandpa's snores til I got used to the surprisingly loud noise. Soon I found them soothing and couldn't sleep well until he came to bed and I was lulled to sleep by the reliable consistency of his snores. Consistent in both sound and timing.
My husband's snores, on the other hand, sound like aliens having a conversation. He cuddles up to me and sticks his nose in my ear, that's when the conversation begins. Sometimes I discern questions, sometimes pleading and then comes the long strange monologues at which point I'm awake and rush out of the room to start the day.
That's why I'm writing very early on an Easter morning. I've checked the girls and made sure they have enough covers to keep them warm. It's still chilly in the house. The White Mountains to the south have snow on their peaks. With the humidity from the Cretan Sea to the north of the house and the winter at the top of the White Mountains we are the peanut butter in a cool weather sandwich. Damp and sometimes gooey.
Friday, Good Friday, was a day of reflection and mourning. The church bells reminding us every so often that life must be taken seriously on the day we remember death.
Ding Ding pause Dong
Ding Ding pause Dong
pause pause pause pause pause pause pause pause
Dong Dong pause Ding
In the evening after the Good Friday liturgy the epitaphios (casket) covered with beautiful flowers was carried out through the streets. The members of the church community quietly following behind. A small brass band played a dirge as it brought up the end of the parade, much like a funeral in New Orleans.
Saturday morning I looked for the pages in the newspaper that have photos of the epitaphios from churches across the island. I feel a loyalty to our church of St. Evangalistri and always decide the most beautifully decorated epitaphios comes from here in Xalepa!
Last night at midnight another liturgy was made at church. During which happens a very magical ritual, the passing of the flame from Jerusalem. Each worshipper holds a candle which is lit in a wave starting with the Papas passing the Holy Flame to the candles of worshippers in the front row, they light the candles of those in the second row and so on the sacred light moves so all can have a flame from it. We each bring the flame home and let it burn from a candle in our homes.
In the platia in front of the church children had been piling dried branches and old wood for a bonfire. An effigy of Judas was hung with feet dangling in the fire. His reward for betraying Jesus Christ; even after all these years no forgiveness. Someone fires a gun into the air. Firecrackers explode all around making some of us jump and become skittish like sensitive mares.
Other small bonfires were lit in neighborhoods so that everyone who wanted, could leap over the fire in celebration of spring. The old is past, our lives renewed as we jump over the burning flames.