Yesterday I awoke in the Turkish city of Adana; this morning my window overlooks the Toronto airport, the city skyline in the hazy distance. Tomorrow, I’ll wake to my Kelowna valley view. The 2017 Zincirli season is not only over, but half a world away.
As ever, the final days of the dig were frantically busy. The few of us left behind to conclude the season worked intensely – but also enjoyed some cosy communal time. The smaller group fit companionably along the courtyard picnic tables, lingering over evening meals, sampling the local wines in a vain search for something palatable, dissecting world events and digesting the season’s findings. A challenging jigsaw puzzle focussed our attention the final nights but, alas, too late in the day for completion. Our numbers dwindled by twos and threes until the final departures this week. Now the offices are sealed awaiting our return.
I leave you with a few images from this year’s work and travels. Heading home…
I’ve been here on the dig for three weeks and we’re already past the half way point of the season. Spare time seems to be at a premium. I’m using my afternoons to catch a nap rather than socialize or write. The usually punishing schedule is particularly punishing this year; could it be advancing age??
If the pattern holds, we’re easing into September weather. Temperatures are in a slightly more comfortable range – in the morning and evening, certainly. Our start time has been dialled back to account for a later sunrise, and we ended our evening meal after dark tonight. I have a full crate of artifacts collecting beneath my desk, awaiting attention: an assortment of partial stone vessels, clay weights and such. Nothing that you would recognize as ‘treasure’ but it all tells a story. I’ve drawn about half of what is on my “to do” list, and more comes in from the field each day. Maybe that accounts for the lack of free time more than my age?
While I continue to play catch up here, I thought I’d hold you at bay with a few photos from a recent trip to the Gaziantep museum. The stele I’m posed with and the orthostat were two of the very first finds that I was assigned to draw in 2008. I was only here for three weeks that first season – a “try out” for the position of illustrator. I cut my teeth on some major material and passed the test, so here I am nine years later. The museum case may not seem like much to you – but it’s the first time ever that I’ve seen a collection with which I’d been up close and personal: I’d drawn (and handled) every artifact in the display!
Hello again. Welcome back. I know. It’s been a while.
I’m sitting on my balcony as darkness falls. A chill glass of white from a neighbourhood winery sits to hand. The distant clouds are frosted in pink, the nearer hills shading to bronze; following a week under the shroud of a smokey haze, it’s lovely to breathe clear air and see down the valley again. The crickets have begun their nightly chorus – the rhythmic song of late summer that lulled me to sleep my first nights here.
It was a year ago this weekend that I left behind my home in Ontario. I’ve come round the calendar, marking the changes and learning the rhythms of this new home. I’ve seen the summer orchards shade to bronze and copper, watched as winter crept down from the peaks and watched it retreat again, drank in the scent of orchards in blossom, marvelled as clusters of fruit appeared among the rows. It was peach season when I arrived and it’s peach season again; each day’s offering bigger and juicier than the day before. Berries, apricots and cherries have had their day, now root vegetables and field tomatoes are crowding the stalls. Cabbages and pumpkins ripen in the fields, the trees are burdened with still-green apples.
Summer is far from over here in the Okanagan – but I’ll be heading off in the morning to spend the remaining weeks of the season in Turkey. After a year of exploring and learning a new place, it’s time to return to a familiar one. The dig at Zincirli opened at the beginning of August and I’ve had word that lovely objects have emerged from the soil and are waiting to be drawn. I’m eager to reconnect with friends – it’s been nearly two years! – and I’m wondering how the sleepy little village of Fevzipaşa has fared meanwhile. I’m awash in thoughts of steaming tea in tulip glasses, tiny cups of morning espresso, late night conversations in a windy courtyard and early mornings awakening to a somewhat-less-than-melodious call to prayer. Adventure – of a sort – awaits.
If you’ve been following this blog previously, you have an idea of what’s to come. If you’re new here – you may want to take a look at this early post to catch up on what I’m up to. Old friend or new – I hope you’ll come along!
Yes, it’s appalling how long I’ve neglected this blog but my adventures are about to resume – and so the inspiration for blogging in the first place will, happily, be renewed. Tomorrow evening I’ll be winging my way to Turkey once again. I’ve done a provisional packing. Everything fits, which I’m sure means that I’ve forgotten something major but I don’t know what it is yet. Over the years I’ve stashed an awful lot of stuff at our quarters in the village – art supplies and books, bedding, clothes and sundries – so each year I take less and less with me.
Meanwhile I’ve concluded that no amount of cramming Rosetta Stone exercises will have me speaking Turkish fluently before I fly out. In spite of regular study, the language still baffles me. I’ve added considerable vocabulary, but I still have little clue how to string the words together to compose a sentence. I’m hoping that I have enough stuffed into my brain to keep Sila, my little village friend, from laughing at me. Again. I am haunted by her exasperated sighs at my past feeble attempts. Perhaps I will be speaking more at the end of the summer than now. That’s not really saying much…pun intended.
As I’ve been preparing this past week, I’ve been reflecting on a service that I attended last weekend, a memorial for the mother of a good friend here in town. Kay was a vibrant presence and the service was a celebration of a life joyously well lived. I am very mindful of two oft repeated phrases of Kay’s that her grandsons quoted: “Aren’t we the happy people?” and “Aren’t we lucky?” She seemed constantly mindful of the wonder of life, the good fortune of being surrounded by friends and family and never ceased to remind others of that.
Now, here am I about to take a plane half-way around the world. I know there will be friends waiting in the Istanbul airport, that we’ll greet each other warmly and continue our journey together. I know that at the end of a familiar road there will be yet more friends to greet and a foreign village that has become a kind of home. Yes, there will be grumbling over too early mornings and seemingly endless hot, long days of work but there will also be stories and laughter and yet more friendships shared over the summer.
Ah, my archaeological friends! Aren’t we the happy people? Aren’t we lucky?