When I was planning to go to Crete in the fall of 1976, someone asked me if I’d read Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi. I hadn’t. I remember reading it the month before I left and loving every word. Would I love them all now? I might just read it again to find out. But today I thought of the passage about water, so rich and vivid and mythic somehow. I was watering on the deck upstairs, late, because we had to go down to Sechelt this morning on errands. It was overcast and cool when we left but blazing hot once we got home and so after a quick lunch I began to take hoses and watering cans around to the potted plants. Water dripped on my feet and I thought how welcome it was, cool drops on dry skin. I filled the blue dish I keep on a planter for frogs. And that was when I remembered The Colossus of Maroussi and wondered if it still held the same beauty. I found it on my shelves, Theresa Kishkan, August, 1976, the price tag–$2.00–still stuck to the cover.
I sauntered slowly through the park towards the Temple of Jupiter. There were little tables along the dusty paths set out in an absent-minded way; couples were sitting there quietly in the dark, talking in low voices, over glasses of water. The glass of water . . . everywhere I saw the glass of water. It became obsessional. I began to think of water as a new thing, a new vital element of life. Earth, air, fire, water. Right now water had become the cardinal element, Seeing lovers sitting there in the dark drinking water, sitting there in peace and quiet and talking in low tones, gave me a wonderful feeling about the Greek character. The dust, the heat, the poverty, the bareness, the containedness of the people, and the water everywhere in little tumblers standing between the quiet, peaceful couples, gave me the feeling that there was something holy about the place, something nourishing and sustaining.
When I fill the birdbath, often a robin comes almost immediately. When I take the hose around to the tomato plants in their deep pots, I can smell the water on their lower leaves. They must feel like I feel every morning at 8:30 when I step into the lake and push my body into the water shimmering with sunlight through cedars, tiny schools of fish darting here and there, kingfishers further along the shore diving for breakfast, and yes, there is something holy about the place, about the cool water quiet in the morning, a few footprints at the very edge, marks left by the crows who are waiting for us to leave.