Winter song

“Santorini is lonely in winter” – My friend Erika

Monday brings more bad weather to Santorini; the winds howl overnight.  This isn’t the place I recall. Erika speaks of winters on Santorini being lonely and cold: rain gives way to wind, which is overtaken in turn by rain again.  Many of the population of 10,000 abandon the island, for warmer, busier places, and it sits propped in the Aegean, a stranger to everyone who knows it only at its most magnificant.

Erika tells of how, as a young Austrian bride, winters would draw her into loneliness and depression until, one morning at 3am, she awoke to the sound of singing.  She went in search of the source and, there he sat, on a roof, legs swinging, a man singing a peasant’s song of how the captain of the workers treated his workers badly and there was nothing they could but to continue working.

This song, and the image of the singer on the roof, cheered her up and got her through the dark winter.

Over 20 years later, I was lucky enough to be invited to their church celebration, which involved lots of wine, dancing and food, and that man was there, now 80, and still singing.  Erika told him what that song meant to her, and he sang it to her.  This was the first time she heard him since it again since that first time.  Here it is.

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