When he’s not working, writer and former UK journalist STEVE PARSLEY spends quite a bit of time walking the woods around Fethiye with four-legged companion Dillon, often posting their discoveries on his social media accounts.
Fethiye Times asked if he would share some of his daily encounters with us. This month, Steve laments the end of the summer season.
Farewell to the dog days of summer
The thought occurred that whoever came up with the phrase “the dog days of summer” probably never tried to walk one in Turkey.
Even though we’re up at first light – throughout June, July, August and even early September this year – it’s been so warm my tee-shirt was unpleasantly damp after just a few minutes’ walking on anything involving an incline. And, let’s face it, around Kayaköy, that’s pretty much everywhere.
After his usual initial burst of enthusiasm, even Dillon was running out of steam in the relentless heat, with little to see out of the shade of the forest except parched earth, scorpions and lizards – and all set to the shrill cicada chorus.
Looking the phrase up, it seems the Romans were first to use it and it refers not to earth-bound hounds but to the time of the year when Sirius – or the Dog Star – shines brightest at night.
But, although I have Wikipedia to thank for making the meaning a little clearer, we’re still not altogether sorry to see autumn’s arrival – and not just because it’s cooler and we can set off that little bit later. There’s also much more to see.
The pale pink cyclamens were first to emerge, poking out from beneath the bed of pine needles, closely followed by the usual surge of white asphodel in just about any space open to the sky.
The boar are on the move
It’s not been quite cool enough to tempt the tortoises out of their summer stupor just yet but the boar have also been on the move, returning to high ground in the mornings.
We stumbled across a family group of a dozen or so not so long ago and I’m not sure who was more astonished. There was that fleeting moment when we were all looking at each other, before the family dissolved into a blur of brown and grey, all heading in different directions.
Dillon and I stayed where we were, not wishing to cause them any more distress or to trigger a defence; they may have scattered in panic but, no doubt, they would try to regroup and walking through the middle of them probably wouldn’t have been a good plan.
Sure enough, there were a few indignant grunts from among the closely-packed pine saplings either side of the path but, in less than a couple of minutes, it was as though they had never been there at all.
But, along with signs of larger animals, the soundtrack of the forest has changed too. Birdsong isn’t drowned out completely by the cicadas so great tits, blue tits, the occasional nightingale and the odd robin are getting an opportunity to be heard. We’re also frequently told off by a Syrian woodpecker and the jays who live close to the clearing where we throw Dill’s ball.
The nearby water trough – still almost empty – nevertheless attracts a host of smaller birds including wagtails, black redstarts and chaffinches.
However, while the wildlife may be back, over the last few days the goats have also returned from their summer pastures higher in the mountains. That means, from now until the late spring, the shepherds will be driving them along much the same routes we use at roughly the same time, following tracks which have probably been there for generations which help to ensure no particular spot is over-grazed.
But, for us, it also means it’s time for change. Dillon’s fine with goats but they’re often escorted by the shepherd’s dogs and our encounters with them have rarely ended well.
I’ll admit to a sense of frustration that we can’t all share the same space. It’s not like there’s not enough room. However, I also recognise we are the recent interlopers in a way of life which has probably changed little in a century or two so, although it’s with reluctance, it’s probably best to let discretion be the better part of valour.
Our local winter routes are a little more cramped. We’re also likely to come across more people – not all of them enthusiastic about being greeted or sniffed enthusiastically by a German Shepherd who doesn’t understand that they may not like him.
But, while we enjoy the forests almost to ourselves in the summer months, at least we can also stretch our legs on the beaches at this end of the year and there’s always the snow up at Nif if we fancy a weekend adventure.
Swings and roundabouts as they say … and I doubt that phrase comes from the Romans.
Rebecca & Steve Parsley are both former journalists with experience in newspapers, magazines and on radio. Since 2006 they have run their own communications agency, specialising in social media and online content writing. They moved to Turkey just over four years ago and live in Kayaköy with their German Shepherd dog, Dillon – formerly a street dog – and two cats. When not slaving over their keyboards or walking in the local countryside, they enjoy watching motorsport – especially Formula 1 – and are also salsa dance addicts