Memories of Vatopedi

snow2015 Cold weather in Knoxville reminds me of the heat and activity of this past summer. We got so much done on the house in Vatopedi–the exterior and interior walls were bricked up, the slope of the lot was leveled, a beautiful tile roof was added, electricity was brought to the house, a septic tank was dug, and a “deposito” or reservoir was built to store water, precious water which is still a big question–when will it arrive?

I imagine it’s olive season in Halkidiki now. Did you know that, although the Kalamata olives are most famous around the world, the Halkidiki type of olive is the largest of the Greek olives. And now we have 20-30 of them surrounding us in our plot of Vatopedi earth. We have asked our neighbor to collect our olives when he harvests his, so we will enjoy our own olive oil next summer.
olivescloseupThe photo here is the size of the olives on one of our trees in July. I can only imagine their size now!
Did I ever tell you the story of yia yia Vera’s icon? I will do just that as soon as I find it…. Oh, here it is:
Do you remember yia yia’s story about the icon of Panageia (Virgin Mary) in the cupboard? This is that icon. It’s now on the kitchen counter in Theia Kaiti’s house—on loan from Theia Vasso upstairs. Theia Kaiti says it’s a healing icon, and since Theios Nakis’ stroke, Theia Vasso loaned it to Kaiti. Here’s the story about this icon:

During the forty days of Lent, sugar, dairy, and eggs are forbidden. When yia yia Vera was a girl, her mother had baked some treats for the Easter celebration that would take place in a few days. Her mother Eva had placed a bag of sugar, kourambiedes (butter cookies rolled in powdered sugar) the traditional tsourekia (sweet egg bread in a braid) and other sweets inside a cabinet that also contained this icon. This cabinet door was normally left open and used as an iconostasis.

However, Eva had to leave the house to do some shopping for the Easter celebration, and she knew that Vera had a sweet tooth. After forty days of fasting, who wouldn’t? So, Eva locked the cabinet door this time. While her mother was gone, Vera heard a great commotion in the kitchen but didn’t go investigate because it frightened her. When her mother returned and opened the cabinet door, she found the icon in a mess of sugar, kourambiedes, and mashed tsoureki. At first, she accused Vera of trying to get into the cabinet, but she knew she had the only key to open the door. The culprit was Virgin Mary herself!

Moral of the story: Don’t lock up the Panageia in a cabinet. Her icon must always be in an open and lighted place.

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One Response to Memories of Vatopedi

  1. hey biggie! i can’t wait to taste some olives next year, yes? my friend, danielle, read all of your blog posts, your family history and daddy’s that you sent me via mail. she is now inlove with you and wants you to write a cookbook. kay? talk to you tonight!

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