Kurban Bayram and a Vacation

This week is Kurban Bayram or Eid al-Adha, the second religious holiday after Ramadan.  It is a festival of sacrifice, and charity.  Animals, usually sheep and cows, are sacrificed to represent Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.  After the sacrifice a certain percentage of the meat is donated to the poor.  The rest is divided among the family.  Usually during this time your time is spent doing family visits and memorial visits.  Usually the first or second day of Bayram the family visits the cemetery and pays respect to their dead.

The visits start out at the oldest relatives home, and progress down the line.  At the visits tea and snacks are served, usually one salty and one sweet.  You can not refuse.  So Bayram becomes a time of visiting and eating, and eating and visiting.  And then later feeling slightly ill due to the amount of sugar and tea you have consumed.

But not this year!!!  This year the calendar aligned so Bayram started Monday at 12pm and ended Friday.  The government decided to give us all of Monday off which means we have the whole week off! YAY!

We decided to drive down to Marmaris, a 10 hour drive and spend the week at the summer house.  It has been great.  It is cool, about 60 and a little rainy but incredibly gorgeous.  During the summer it is usually about 100 degrees so it is so nice to take walks along the sea or in the mountain without seriously worrying  about heat stroke and death.

As I write this I am sitting in the garden, under a lush canopy of green, smelling the jasmine in the air moist and rich from the rain. I can even hear the crickets and frogs.  A vast difference from sitting here in the sweltering heat listening to the loud techno music from the bar down the streets and the drunk tourists swearing while they stumble on the road behind me after a night of clubbing.

Fall Foliage

It is fall in Ankara.  The days are warm, the nights are cool.  The weather is lovely.  The leaves are starting to change-sort of.  I think it is because it is not quite cold enough that the leaves are changing color patchily. The colors are not particularly vibrant.  But after living in California for three years, a little yellow on the trees and leaves on the ground feels like autumn to me. 

However, my conception of autumn and foliage has been forever ruined by the standard.  Nothing can ever come close.   Seriously.  My parents have ruined me for fall anywhere other than New Hampshire. 

HOUSE

In the fall our home is surrounded by brightly colored trees.  In front of our home is a pond, and when the light is right the trees across the pond reflect on the water and it looks like they might catch on fire. 

pondThere really is no competition.  As lovely as every place I have lived and visited, truly nothing compares to the gorgeousness of the New Hampshire woods.  Sure the power goes out occasionally.  Yes, your cheeks might feel like they will freeze off in the winter.  Driving home can be a death defying act on the narrow, dirt, ice covered roads.  But…

9_29_09_afternoon_color 

Really.  There is no comparison.

 

See this photo?

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I receive photos very similar but very different several times a week.  This is the view off the front porch at sunrise.  My mother sends me sunrise photos from home about three times a week.  They are my favorite emails to find in my inbox.

Summer’s End

Fall is creeping in.  I can feel it in the crisp nights and the sunny days.  At one point in my life I thought Fall would no longer feel like the start of the year.  I thought as I finished school and entered the workforce there would be a separation.  And then I became a teacher, and autumn is forever linked with the smell of new paper and the start of the year. 

Maybe that is why I love Fall.  It is a hopeful time, new students, new schedule and a bright new slate.   I also adore the weather of Fall.  The brightness of the air as the coolness washes over the land, the change of the leaves.  There is something special about waking up and seeing frosted grass, knowing that now the  blades of grass are like green icicles, fragile and dagger like, but as soon as the sun hits it they will be back, fresh, slightly wilted but still tickly beneath bare feet. 

For 3 years I missed Fall.  It does not exist in Southern California.  It skips from summer to winter like a scratch on a CD, one moment you are in your bathing suit on the beach, the next it is cool and you have to wear a sweater–frigid I know.   Here in Turkey it is unfamiliar, yet still the same.  Fall is here, like an old friend in a new country.