David Ross (dyvyd) wrote,
David Ross
dyvyd

Greece 12: The Goatherd's Daughter

My favorite combination of exercise and art in recent years has been to hike to a waterfall, take photos, and hike back.  I have a 6X9 Fuji camera and a large tripod that I carry to weight me solidly on the trail. So I asked my daughter, that American gone Tinos-Island-Native, if there were any interesting streams, waterfalls, ponds, etc. on the island to photograph?  Even while asking,  I had serious doubts.  Clearly, after a hard rain, the whole mountainside was a waterfall, but it seemed as though all that water would be completely gone after one mad rush to the sea.

She assured me that she had heard of a waterfall nearby though, so we set out to find it.  From Panormos we walked the half-mile down the coast to Rafina Beach.  It was off-season, but it was easy to imagine what a swinging beach party went on there in the summer months.  At Rafina we turned inland following a small stream.  We followed the stream at a higher elevation because the ground near the  stream itself was clogged with rushes and thickets. After a few hundred yards the stream itself became invisible beneath the foliage.

As we were leaving the beach my daughter paused to search out a suitable piece of driftwood for a staff.  A third leg for a tripod was a good idea in this sort of country-- no, a brilliant idea.  But she had something else in mind also-- snakes. As we left the beach and into a narrowing valley she gave us a chilling talk about a poisonous brown-colored snake that could be lurking anywhere-- behind any rock, any shrub. She said the bite of this snake is fatal.  My fearless daughter showing so much respect for an adversary was far more frightening than any effect Hollywood might achieve with tense music and CGI.  As she began walking out through a meadow of high grass sweeping ahead of herself with her staff like a metal detector technician sweeping a minefield, my wife swiftly turned back for the beach, and I, pretending to myself that my daughter must be exaggerating, followed her into the high grass, chatting like a loon. "I thought the cats got them all." I said.  "Well," she replied, "they still survive by eating snakes, so what does that tell you?"

But she would have no more chitchat.  She demanded that I follow close in her footsteps, and quietly.  She made noise with the staff, presumably to alert and scatter any snakes ahead.  As a child I had once been a hunter of snakes, and while I felt more and more the victim of a ridiculous caution as my nerve returned, I also had no forked stick in my hands, no tools or protection of any sort-- sneakers instead of high boots.  I resolved that, so long as my daughter maintained the serious intent of her work,  I would do as she said.
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