When we first arrived at the village there was a threshing circle alongside the house, just behind the outbuildings which were co-owned by a cohort of cousins, including my father. Eventually he struck a deal, exchanging, I think, most of the land for a small strip which he enclosed to build a fourno, garage and to grow a vegetable patch.

With the arrival of mechanical threshers long before us in the village, the circular threshing floor remained unused until part of it was covered by the garage and the rest of it lost in the field that feeds the odd goat or sheep. The threshing circle was made of white stones from the nearby river, packed tightly together to form a smooth enough surface for the horses’ hooves to crush the wheat ears. I can imagine the villagers bringing their wheat in wagons or on the backs of donkeys to be threshed. I imagine everyone would have taken a turn, young and old, male and female, to toss the crushed material into the wind, letting the wheat fall to the ground and the chaff blow into the field.

At lunch time they would have taken a break, eaten some thick crusted chewable village bread with feta from their sheep’s milk. The village onions were like apples and would have made a perfect tangy accompaniment to this peasant meal. Perhaps they drank some retsina, watered down to allow them to continue to work. The Ancient Greek armies had rules of dilution for wine serving: before a battle they watered it down, a quarter wine and the rest water. After battle, if they survived and were victorious, they celebrated with full strength wine.

I do not know if they had communal threshing sessions, or if they each did their own. I suppose then, like now, there were family feuds and some families probably threshed elsewhere. Perhaps they would have a party afterwards, as the autumn sun fell behind Mainalon and cast a shadow across the flat plain. It is easy to hear a clarinet playing in those hills. The sound of the wind in the silence hints at this music when you walk quietly in the evenings down from the house, across the river bed and along the edge of the plain.

This threshing floor also had an old wagon parked on it when we were small. We would climb up and sit on the seat, making imaginary horse drawn expeditions into Arcadia. Until we lifted the wooden lid of the seat to find some treasure left behind and were stung by hornets.

It was just a circle of stones next to our house. If it that threshing floor was still there now I would go along at full moon and sit in the middle of that ancient circle with a bottle of retsina and bread and cheese. It would be obligatory to have some wild mountain music playing and I am sure the spirits of the past would visit me and allow me into their world.

The view over the site of the threshing floor

One thought on “Conversations on the Threshing Floor

  1. Pure poetry…the prose is so masterful that I was transported to this other world of simple pleasures; a life lived by the passing of seasons and the grace of nature. Beautiful!


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