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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Meander (Μαίανδρος)

With the arrival of the colder weather (we all got our first sore throat of the season this past weekend), it's rug-laying time in Greece. Most people (actually, I'd say everyone, except me) lay their rugs on the floor in winter, then remove them in summer for washing and storing. I was used to leaving them on the floor the whole year round, as I was used to walking on carpet all year round in New Zealand, where wall to wall carpeting was the norm in my days. My husband didn't seem to mind this change in Greek seasonal living either. We live on the top floor above the yiayia, and the insulation of the floor is not very well sound-proofed, so the carpets served a dual purpose. At any rate, the carpet never really made feel over-heated throughout the summer; minor spills and accidents were cleared up immdiately.

When we had the house painted this summer, we had to do a lot of moving around of furniture. It's literally the first time we've lifted rugs off the floor, except the few times we've washed them (which we never did every year anyway). This summer is the first that we've walked on the bare tiles of the floor, which feel icy cold now in the cooler weather - winter is definitely on its way here in Crete.
Our narrow store room (sandwiched between the bathroom and the kitchen) has enough space to store, among many other things, my unread-books collection (bought from second hand bookshops), summer preserves and my computer.
Since the renovations, our storeroom became a computer room, with a comfortable 'indoor-outdoor flow' leading to the living room. Although a carpet was not necessary in this very functional room, I found a runner remnant whose previous life was over, which could easily be laid on this floor. It contained the maiandros design on both sides. I had never noticed it until now, since so much talk has been made on the subject of the meander in the last two weeks: the Greek Nazi party uses the motif as its symbol - when used alone, it is reminscent of Hitler's motif. I felt a little saddened that this beautiful symbol of architectural design which originated in Ancient Greece has been abused so much as of late.
The meander is used here to denote Greek food prodcuts - this photo has been taken in California. 
From under the beds, where most of the carpets were being stored, I found one that had never actually been used. It was a little project that I had started in New Zealand, and hadn't finished. I had designed the rug myself, based on free and natural living, with earthly symbols. I used to love visiting arts and crafts stores in New Zealand, and was surprised to find a lack of such 'home project' DIY stores here when I first came. The only such supplies that were readily available (even in places like corner stores) were crochet yarn (for doily making) and embroidery yarn (for framed pictures). I took the unfinished rug project with me when I left New Zealand for good and continued it here. Eventually I ran out of wool and the market in Hania eventually ran out of it too, because it became uncommon to make such items (rug wool was once popularly used to make cushions).

My daughter took the photo of the rug with a cartoon effect, using some kind of photoshop app on her tablet - the meander can be clearly seen running around the border. 
My enthusiasm for this project began to wane when I realised that it no longer served the original purpose for which it was designed. It was too bohemian and did not suit my married life. It remained in hiding until I took it out today. When my daughter saw it, she instantly fell in love with it. "I want it for my room!" she said. She especially liked it when she heard that I had made it. I explained that it was not quite finished, but I also noticed how thick and luxurious it felt, despite a few patches here and there where there was no wool - and I did actually use pure 100% wool.

And there I saw the meander again. An overly-used symbol in our tourist industry, it has eventually come to be regarded as Greek kitsch. But it had always been subconsciously a part of me from my New Zealand days, a surface expression of my Greek heritage, whose kitsch value I did not realise in my diaspora days, nor did I know how it would be denigrated in modern times. We never really know where our meanders will take us.

Cry, the beloved country.

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