Selimiye in late September

Selimiye in late September


I yawn and stretch and glance at the time. It's close on seven p.m. The setting sun throws mellow light over the western slopes of low, rounded hills and distant mountains as I gather my things with the intention of launching myself from the shingle beach for the last, lingering swim of the day.

Breathing in, I am soon immersed a late September sea. It’s warm and soothing and supports me with a kind embrace as I kick away from the shore, passing small schools of damsel fish and bream, that shift direction and dive or otherwise just flit about in the shade of the pier.

Further out now, crystal-clear waters permit a view of sea floor, many, many metres below. Here, sunlight is refracted into a myriad of colours dancing in time to a thalassic beat. The vision of colour and movement has me entranced and I let go of the notion of time, relaxing and drawing in the peace and beauty of the world below the surface of the water.

The sound of bleating goats brings my attention back to the shore and I watch as a woman in traditional village garb tethers her cow to a mulberry tree. A slight breeze moves the branches high up in the tree and only then am I aware that each and every one of the trees within view bears fruit of some kind - mulberry, orange, olive, pomegranate, almond or fig. I begin to carefully survey the surrounding countryside, ever on the look out for more subtle beauty in the lengthening shadows.

A fortress sits atop a hill. It has been there, standing sentry, for more than a thousand years. After considering its accessibility, I realise that I'm in no hurry to get up there, ‘though I’m sure that the view would be good. So soothing are the warm waters that I let the sweetness of the moment envelop me completely as I lie back, eyes now shut. . . gently floating with arms outstretched. . . listening to that curious undersea chorus of clicks and clacks and oblivious to all other things. When I eventually open my eyes, I look up to see the thinest sliver of a moon and watch the aerobatic maneuvers of a family of swallows, contentedly grabbing dinner on the wing in the pale blue skies overhead.

Minutes pass as I float in a different world, with a different view. The sun’s last rays of light turn the mountains a coppery red. The air is sweet with the smell of hay as night falls over a wide bay ringed by mountains in the south-western corner of Turkey. I'm lost in a moment of bliss as my feet touch the shingle and I rise up out of the water, anticipating the refreshing bite of the simple white wine that is being poured at our table.

By Victoria Hamilton


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