We are leaving spring behind and roaring, full throttle, into summer.
Every year the change in seasons happens this way: for the first half of April we cruise through a beautiful honeymoon spring, green grass, bright flowers, air crisp enough morning and evening to make long sleeves and a sweatshirt neccessary. The butter can stay out of the fridge in its butterdish, and retain the perfect consistency for spreading. Then around the middle of the month, the season shifts into higher gear. Overnight the grain ripens and the flowers die. Shorts and sandals come out of the closets, doors and windows stay open all day. One starts to avoid the sunshine. The butter sags into a golden pool and, if not refrigerated during the day, gets a rancid tang very quickly.
Yesterday we celebrated Zenon's birthday. He invited a crowd of friends and most of their parents joined us as well. Best Beloved did a simple meal of pork, lamb, and chicken souvla. There were hummous and grilled halloumi for the vegetarian contingent, and a massive salad. Cake and jelly followed the games, then the children dispersed to bike races, lego building, and table tennis – which the adults soon joined. Everyone left by dark, and BB and I cleaned up then sat sipping white wine on the verandah.
I guess I've been doing birthday parties – an average of two or three a year – for seventeen years now. And as I looked around the gathered well-wishers, I saw some of the same faces that appear in pictures taken more than a decade ago. Stelios is about to finish his army service now. Yioti is about to do his A-Levels. I have pictures of Yiotis's fifth birthday party, with several of the same characters gathered around his chocolate cake as were gathered around Zenon's yesterday. Maybe that's because Lisa's and my kids grew up side-by-side... But it's been a while since all her big boys were here, and as she said yesterday, as we watched them scoffing cake and jelly with the same enthusiasm that they showed twelve years ago “They don't get any smaller, and they take up So Much Space!”
Little People parties are dominated by Pass the Parcel and Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Sophia's last one – when she turned fourteen (she couldn't decide what to do last year, so opted for nothing) – was a tea party, complete with crustless sandwiches, elegant cups and saucers, and trifle... and head banging rock and roll or heavy metal rumbling from the nether regions both before and after the meal. Leo's is a winter birthday, and the weather is often too bad to spend it outdoors, but Zenon's is the perfect opportunity for outdoor games. Last year we had water ballon wars with washable dye. All the invitations included the admonition to 'wear old clothes' – not a usual warning on a Cypriot invite.
Next weekend belongs to Easter, and the spate of parties and feasting that accompany the major festival of the Orthodox year. I'll shun the bangers and bonfire of Saturday night: custom is that the whole village goes for the Midnight Service, shares a light from the Paschal Candle, and witnesses the celebration of the Risen Christ. The Pagan side of me enjoys the fire and the concept of the gathering, but in practice I usually avoid it – I hate the firecrackers, and don't enjoy the religion.
The Big Ones have friends in the village now to hang out with, and will surely go. BB or his parents may take the Littles.
Then it's back to school – revising and GCSE's for Alex, end of term exams for Sophia, the Three R's for the Littles. After that? The long, glorious ten weeks of summer holidays.