About a month ago while walking my dog early one morning, I saw a woman working in the fields. With the little Greek that I know, I greeted her with a Καλημέρα (Kalimera means “Good morning.”), and found out that her name is Maria. She was dressed in what I would call a traditional dark Cypriot dress, with her hair covered by a kerchief. This was not the kind of Cypriot woman that I had seen at King’s Avenue Mall.  She wasn’t old; it’s just that she didn’t wear makeup.  Her piercing blue eyes stared straight at me. She doesn’t get her nails done, as she works with her hands.  I felt like my dog and I had just walked back in time and were in Πάφος Paphos–the real Paphos before the fish and chip shops, the highways, and the lobster color tourists.

She explained to me that her irrigation pump wasn’t working as she was trying to fix it herself.  She was surrounded by rows and rows of thirsty grape vines.  In the Cypriot heat this is a serious matter. We will not see rain probably until October.  If these grapes were not watered soon, all she would have would be raisins.  And you can’t make good Cypriot wine with raisins.  By the way Cypriot wine is incredibly good, but it is not exported.  You have to live on the island to enjoy some of the best wine you will ever taste.  Maria would sell her harvest to a local winery, but only if she could get the irrigation pump to work.  All I could do was commiserate with her and say, “Τι κρίμα!” (Ti krima means “What a shame!”).

The next day I saw Maria out in the field again–so then I knew it wasn’t a dream. She was happy but busy.  After I greeted her, she said “Περιμένετε” (Perimenete means “wait”).  She disappeared and came back with a bundle of green grapes. Then she handed me three or four bunches.  I held out a plastic bag and she slid the grapes inside.  I felt really happy carrying a bag of fresh grapes home. When I got home, I tried one; I have to admit that the grapes were very sour. But as they say it’s the thought that counts, and that made them sweet.  And after all, maybe sour grapes make good wine.

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