Saturday, September 20, 2014

in the pistachio fields

The morning after our brief glimpse of Gaziantep took us through the nearby pistachio fields in search of the Yellow-throated Sparrow, which was a near guarantee if we could brave the sweltering heat. Under a relentless blue sky, the pale earth rolled in gentle hills dotted with the hardy green trees which were bearing their fruit, delicately tinged with magenta. I had never seen a pistachio tree before, but the sight of them brought me the smell of the cigarette smoke that curled out of my aunties' lips as they peeled the red and pink skin off the kilos of raw pistachios they had smuggled to my mother's balcony from Lebanon.

Our sandals crunched across the dry soil, and I paused in the shade of a tree while Pedro wandered on with his binoculars tight in his hands. Suddenly, as birds so very often appear, a small flutter turned out to be the very creature we were hoping to see.

True to the drawing in our guidebook, the little brown bird turned to reveal its lemon-yellow throat. Watching that bird through the telescope in the silence of the orchard, I felt overcome by a deep happiness. Birds are great like that; they have this magical ability to transport you simply by being, and doing their thing.

As the sun climbed higher, we left the fields for Mount Nemrut on a meandering route past a flat landscape of yellowed grass. Every so often a tiny village would appear, and with each cluster of dung or cement houses, resident donkeys tethered to the ground would blink at us as we passed by.

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