Every month in Greece has its own character; September is a gentle month, a winding down month. Most tourists have regretfully packed the suntan lotion and headed off to brace themselves for winter, but those who do visit find uncrowded beaches and unless they are very unlucky, glorious weather, and peaceful tranquillity.
September is one of my favourite months. When I go down to the little cove in front of Fiskardo House I feel that the sea is really pleased to welcome me, as if it misses all the boats and swimmers and wants to play. The water temperature is, of course, perfect and the tranquillity suits not only humans; last year my wife Lesley and I were skinny-dipping in the cove and up popped a monk seal right behind her.
Monk seals were revered by the ancient Greeks, who believed that seeing a monk seal was a good omen; they featured in the writings of Homer and Aristotle, and were even depicted on one of the first coins ever produced, around 500 BC. Today monk seals are regarded as the world’s most endangered marine mammal with less than 600 left, so this was a magical moment.
Mostly the weather in September is balmy, not as hot as August but hot enough to tan in a couple of days and to scorch the unwary. The locals are beginning to relax and have more time to chat because the hard work of the busy season is behind them and they start looking forward to the winter, when the lucky ones rest or play and the others head to Athens or elsewhere to work winter jobs.
All the restaurants are still open but the glasses in some of them show signs of too many trips to the dishwasher but the food is as good as ever. A shopping bonus is to be found because all the shops are offering 50 per cent discounts on clothing and souvenirs.
Another bonus is a pleasant addition to the ambient sound. A recent guest asked Lesley who had all the wind chimes near Fiskardo House. Not wind chimes, my wife told her, goat bells. The goats and sheep that spent the summer in the mountains are led back in September and signal their presence by the sound of the bells round their necks. It’s like having moving wind chimes in the fields surrounding the house.
As I write this, it’s September 29 and I am sitting on our shaded patio in a swimming costume with a glorious view of the sea, which is as still as glass. A yacht is slowly heading for the horizon and the sun is creating sharp-etched shadows on the trees.
Ah, the heck with writing, I’m going for a swim!