Nearly midnight, it is still International Women’s Day. In honor of this fleeting occasion, I’ll run short on words and long on images. These photos, some taken by me, others by my friend, the talented photographer Dimitris Maniatis, are of just a few of the many Greek women I admire, at home, at work, and at play. Most of our subjects are my friends and neighbors in and around Poulithra, a few are near-strangers, fascinating people I exchanged just a few words with, but whose stories and smiles remain impressed indelibly in my memory. Some have lived through war, occupation, even famine. With today’s economic crisis, others are experiencing hardship for the first time. Most are mothers, some great-great-grandmothers. All of them are, in their own ways, strong and, in my eyes, quite beautiful.
A yia-yia (grandmother) on her morning walk through the streets of medieval Mesta. (Dimitris Maniatis)
The family that laughs together...Patra (short for Cleopatra), in black to the left, is a powerhouse cook and also a woodworker. With her husband and son, to her right. She has taught me to cook many dishes and she has shared with me many kindnesses.
Cheese in the making. (Dimitris Maniatis)
Elli, my daughter's teacher, two years ago at Poulithra's "nipio," or Kindergarten, now closed.
Panagiota and Dimitra, mother and daughter, celebrating May Day in the mountain village of Amygdala.
From Thomae's sheep. (Dimitris Maniatis)
My friend and hero, the cheesemaker, Thomae, by her garden.
Thomae wields her scythe. (Dimitris Maniatis)
Making touloumotiri (the grandmother of feta). A labor of love. (Dimtris Maniatis)
A watchful nun at Elouna Monastery above Leonidio.
My friend, Panagiota, sorting wild greens.
Family treasures. (Dimitris Maniatis)
Handmade paximadia, or twice-baked barley rusks.
My "nouna," or godmother, Alexia, on the night before Easter.
At the village spring. Pyrgi, Chios.
Signs of faith.
Thomae (left), with her neighbors on her farm outside of the shepherd village of Vaskina. (Dimitris Maniatis)
Happy International Women’s Day and, to the many strong and beautiful women in my life and to women everywhere, Χρονια πολλα!