Travelling up through the mountains by coach we had views of the hills cloaked in their 'springtime' evergreen shrubs and I could pick out the dry river beds by the ribbons of oleanders with their pink blooms. We stopped at a view point and although early in the day the heat haze had started to form.
Ruins of threshing floors and derelict windmills for grinding the corn signaled that we were going through a pass. These are ideal spots where chaff would be blown away on the stiff breezes, which also turned the sails.
This is just one of the many types of Phlomis growing on Crete.
We started our walk at the edge of Lassithi Plateau. Just looking at the handful of windmills with full sails left me with a sad feeling that all the other windpump, and it is reckoned there were ten thousand, are now defunct. Instead diesel powered pumps bring up water. It is relatively cool at this higher altitude. The plateau gets covered with snow during the winter. With its very fertile soil, its no surprise to hear that this area has been farmed for centuries, since Neolithic times.
Even with strong sun the fields were being irrigated with a fine mist which seemed to evaporate before it could hit the ground. I've been thinking about this, and maybe it was to keep the recently sown crops cool enough.
This butterfly probably a speckled wood stopped long enough for me to 'capture' it. All around there were birds. Hopefully I shall receive a list from Dee Doody of the ones we saw. We watched a very rare bird of prey...but I did not have my note book on me!!
After walking across the plateau, and through the village of Psychro, we started our walk uphill towards the Dhiktean Cave. These days I seem to get confused, unless I can pinpoint places. I found the different spellings and names particularly difficult: Psychro Caves, Dhiktean, Dikteon...how many more names/spellings can there be for the Cave where according to Greek Legend Zeus was born?
I had to keep up with the party, but I was tempted on several occasions to hold back to enjoy the wild plants and flowers along the path.
Above the mouth of the cave, large fig trees grew from cracks in the limestone rocks.
As you descend into the cave, there are interesting formations, along the walls, as well as stalactites and stalagmites.
Its the lovely blooms that caught my eye. The first picture here us Centaurea raphanina ssp raphanina, an endemic of Crete. Its stemless and has the most intricate bloom.
Orchids dotted the sparse vegetation along the path.
Here a very hairy yellow flowered plant tried to muscle in on a centaurea
The most striking plant of this hillside was one whose leaves alone could hold my interest for a very long time. Here they are fresh and completely unfurled. Its bloom still at the tight bud stage. I saw several examples of Drcunculus vulgaris: the voodoo lily.
This plant's leaves had started to curl and dry, but now the flower is fully open.
We drove through some of the very pretty villages, where cherries were starting to ripen, and walnut trees had only just come into leaf.
On the way back we stopped at Krasi. What an enchanting place. Here stands the oldest and largest plane trees in Crete, said to be around two thousand years old.
I could feel its energy, which I felt drawn to. Its one of the finest trees I have been close to. It felt full of life and long may it live. Just across the street are the village springs where water clear and cool seeps from the mountain.
We strolled along the lanes, and here at the front of this Taverna my eye was drawn by the rose tree.
Most of the forecourts were places to display favourite plants.
Here a settee was placed on the road...so welcoming....is that a hand woven rug?
Dare I knock...but I have no Greek...What would I say? But then I see a very old lady all on her own, sitting in her garden in the shade, and I just smile, I receive a smile and then a wave, I wave back, and she smiles some more. We have said all that was required...she an I.