Random Notes

1) Garbage: Plastic is a plague on the earth. The locals use some of the valleys are here as garbage dumps. Most of the refuse appears to be plastic, especially bags and bottles. Sometimes the bags wrap themselves around the apricot trees and flap mightily in the breeze.

2) Mistletoe. I was wondering what the green vegetation on some of the trees around here was; it looks quite a bit like kelp seaweed. Willemijn told me that it’s mistletoe and that it is a parasite that sucks the life out of the trees to which it attaches itself. However, it’s also a sacred plant around here … a bit of a conundrum. Most mistletoe seeds are spread by birds and the plants get some of their nutrients from bird poop. An old Christian tradition holds that mistletoe was once a tree and furnished the wood of the Cross. After the Crucifixion, the plant shriveled and became dwarfed to a parasitic vine.

Mistletoe is also said to be a sexual symbol, because of the consistency and color of the berry juice as well as the belief that it is an aphrodisiac, the “soul” of the oak from which it grows. The origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is vague. However, the tradition may have stemmed from either the Viking association of the plant with Frigga (the goddess of love) or from the ancient belief that mistletoe was related to fertility. Another explanation for the tradition is that it is derived from the festival of Saturnalia, a popular mid-December celebration in ancient Rome.

3) Marriage, for women, still happens in these traditional villages at around 14. The marriage is arranged by the girl’s parents for economic reasons. Not surprisingly, the first child usually appears at 15. Most women in Cappadocian villages are covered; they wear the headscarf, and in Ibrahimpasa, an additional long white pamuk, cotton headscarf, over the patterned underscarf, along with the patterned bloomers known as salvar. Men wear the same kinds of clothes as men anywhere, with the exception that some older Turks wear a knitted toque that looks something like a Jewish skullcap.

4) Fitness is not a concept that is known in these parts. Turks largely live indoors in the winter, considering the cold and wet to be dangerously unhealthy. Even the animals live indoors in the winter, not emerging until mid March when, theoretically, Spring has sprung. Turkish people do not walk through the hills and valleys here; they drive, if they have cars, or take the dolmus (meaning “full”), smaller buses or minivans that travel between the villages here.

See pictures here.

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