Just over two weeks ago, we decided to leave our apartment in Izmir and relocate to my husband's family village right outside of Ephesus, Turkey. If you have been following me on Instagram, @hasatgunu, then you have probably seen my stories about newborn puppies, morning walks in the orchards, and wild storks flying into our yard. For the past two years, my husband and I have created a little get-out-of-town home here and because of the coronavirus pandemic, we have had the opportunity to be here longer than the usual weekend duration. I wanted to share more of my thoughts and experiences about living here for the #foreseeablefuture
Our morning starts early but not by choice. Against my desire, I am waking up at 6:30-7 am because our thin, white curtains and east-facing windows allow the sun to drench us with light at a wicked hour. We bury our heads in our pillows, then slowly wake up, drink a delicious pour-over coffee prepared by my husband and sit on the balcony. At this point, we are grateful for the warmth of the sunlight shining on our faces. From our balcony, we spot the ruins of Ephesus in the distance and hear birds chirping with joy during their morning meal.
Each day, we can see the grape leaves on the twirling vines taking noticeable steps towards summer, stretching out their leaves toward the sun. After coffee, I like to go on a two-mile walk and I pass many of the village women who still try to make sense of my daily morning exercise routine. But by now, we exchange a "Günaydın" or "Good Morning" followed by a few other pleasantries. The bun on the top of my head and my black workout pants are in complete contrast to their colorful scarf-covered heads and floppy floral pants. I return home and tuck into my makeshift office in the guest room and start to work - calls, emails, projects, podcasts, music - you know the drill.
There are breaks of tea, more coffee, spells on the balcony and face-masked trips into town for more food supplies. We have a small working list of projects that need to be accomplished around the house: hanging up hooks, cleaning out the "junk drawer" and shuffling around furniture. Usually, a family member or village woman wonders what we're doing and encourages us to spend more time outside and not working. In full agreement, we join them to sit outside, drink Turkish tea and practice self-control when they reveal a new batch of pastries and tea cookies.
Despite the global panic, not much has changed for the villagers. They wake up, have leisurely breakfasts, work in the fields, make bread, and drink countless cups of black tea. Older villagers with weak immune systems stay secure in their homes while others wander around the town square and wear masks when they want to.
I really love this village and while there are hard parts of living here like traditional mindsets or slow changes, that also happens to be the most charming aspect of the community. Since relocating to the village, I have been able to notice more daily rhythms in the community. For instance, there is a man with learning difficulties that rides his bike to the village square every afternoon. As he approaches, he comes to a long, drawn-out hill that requires persistent peddling but he almost always runs out of steam mid-hill. The villagers anticipate his need for help and they come behind him, give him a push and cheer him on. I love this rhythm of village life.
We live just one house away from the local mosque and the call to prayer goes off five times a day, plus three to four more announcements about COVID-19 updates. Now we have adjusted and it would be eerie not to hear the high-pitched dial-up buttons beep and buzz before the messages are played over the speakers. The village dogs howl in unison while the call to prayer is played.
On Easter Sunday, our outdoor family dog gave birth to six puppies. Most of our energy and concern has gone towards making sure the puppies are healthy and protected. A couple of nights ago, heavy rain came. Salih made sure to go out and move them under a sheltered space. One of the puppies has a broken leg and is having a hard time getting enough food. This little puppy family has captured our attention and we are grateful to give it to something other than the news.
I am constantly pinching myself. I feel so fortunate to be in the middle of nature, safe with my family, picking herbs and onions from the garden. While it may not ever be a place of interest to many, it holds such historic value and importance to my family. Founded by the Arıbeyi family nearly 100 years ago, this weathered village of 1000 or so people holds traditions, recipes, heirlooms and memories that are invaluable. All I want to do is invite you over for a picnic and take you to the clementine trees to smell the bright aroma of the blossoms now in season. But for now, I will continue to share updates and pictures from our village farm life and wait for the season to pass.
This is how our quarantined-life tucked away in a village is unfolding.
Photography by Madly Photography