THE LIGHTNESS OF SUMMER:

Turkey's North Aegean Coast

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Photo Journal for Suitcase Magazine, August 2020.

Though everything seems to have changed so fast in my country, Turkey, there's a place that remains exactly the same. It's a place that has brought me joy and peace since childhood: my parents' summer house on the North Aegean coast of Turkey.

There are so many familiar scenes here. Oak trees dance on the winding roads to the Mount Ida; pink bougainvillea climbs towards windows; tavern keepers set out chairs for the evening; children chase a ball on cobblestone lanes; women sell mountain thyme on the beach; fishermen repair torn nets. Like memories, these moments are so comforting.

Formerly inhabited by Greeks, Cunda Island is home to historic stone houses with pastel-coloured shutters and fish restaurants serving Aegean mezze with raki. I make my way to the shoreside Taş Kahve, a traditional coffeehouse, and order Ayvalık tostu, a toasted sandwich, along with homemade lemonade. This is my happiest corner on this island. I watch old men playing cards at the next table as they chat about the rising prices of groceries.

After reading parts of Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey, I journey around the Bay of Edremit, to the hillside town of Assos, where Aristotle once lived. The views here are conducive to deep thought. I imagine the sun-warmed rocks of the Temple of Athena being assembled by many pieces of legendary stories I've read. From here, I look down to the ancient port and the sea, as it changes from dark blue to green. I see snaking roads and the old city of Assos bathed in honey-hued sunlight, and I'm taken in by the beauty of this town.

Nothing here happens in a rush. I let myself be seduced by the slow way of Aegean living, and I flow with the lightness of summer.