Heidi Trautmann

Where the Wild Artichokes Grow


 By Heidi Trautmann


For the last three years we had passed the Camlibel barrage lake with a heavy sigh, seeing the water level decreasing and the lake basin drying out to the condition of a mud hole. But now in spring 2010 it had filled up again to the top due to the heavy winter rains, filled by many brooks coming from the surrounding mountains.

One lovely April morning we put our trekking shoes on to see for ourselves the wonderful rumours that water was still coming down the barrage wall. It was a day when you felt your heart beat faster looking over the dark blue lake, smelling the scents of the macchia vegetation, feeling butterflies circling your head, and we stretched our legs and set off to walk around the barrage lake now shimmering in the early morning sunlight. On its edges still swam the old reed grass from former happy days but we could see the young reed grass already growing fast, showing their fresh green stems and from there I could hear frogs croak and was that not the sound of birds nesting there giving off cries of alarm?

The hiking trails were washed out and had left deep cracks where the rain waters had rushed down. On the side of the Kyrenia mountains we discovered wild artichokes – cynara cardunculus – cardoons, literally covering the hills, with their small heads showing already from wide bushels of spiny leaves. You can eat them, they do in the Mediterranean countries, but to pick and clean them is I believe not so easy.

The last days of spring, with its most colourful outbreak of spring flowers coming to an end, with the last cistus roses covering the upper hills with pink and white carpets and elegant red wild gladioli by the roadside. Hovering above everything were still some giant fennel plants with their big yellow heads.

After we had crossed over to the other side of a deep brook which required some climbing and helping hands we found a slightly different vegetation. White carmel daisies covering the sides of the road and in a deep ditch were high eucalyptus trees, a tree with so many names: fever tree, gum tree. Big rocks had come down from the mountain above us, rocks glittering in the sunlight and as I came near I saw that it was covered all over with gneiss.

We kept our eyes on the deep blue of the lake, a sight we will take with us for the summer to come, hot summer days.

On the high cliffs above the lake we found the newly opened restaurant “Pigades” where we sat for a while, had lunch and the most fantastic view of the entire lake and its surrounding hills and could follow the hiking trails we had taken. In my thoughts I attached a wish to a wishing tree to keep this lovely world intact inspite of the many mistakes we daily make although we should know better.


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