Ikaria, when I mention the name most people will just shrug, then I explain that Ikaria is part of a famous ancient Greek myth. It concerns a father and son who secretly escaped imprisonment from Crete after fashioning wings made from feathers and wax. The fathers’ instructions to his son were not to fly too high or the sun’s rays would melt his wings. The brash son disregarded his father’s advice and the outcome was he crashed into the Aegean Sea, near the island that consequently was named after him, Ikaria.
The story is a myth but the island is not. Located in the eastern Aegean, it is a rather long, skinny island with a somewhat dubious history, encompassed in a beautiful and provoking topography. It truly reflects what Lawrence Durrell describes as, “spirit of place”. A peoples’ spirit that evolves from being geographically isolated, politically defaulted, and culturally insulated. A spirit that promotes self-sufficiency, an almost arrogant island view and a watchful and suspicious eye towards outsiders.
It was on this wayward island that I was born in the middle of the 20th century in a mountain village said to have existed since the Stone Age. Having left this quaint existence at the age of five, I returned many years later to reacclimatize myself to my heritage on this lonely and windy island. During countless summers spent exploring and eventually settling down as a permanent part-time resident, I amassed vivid memories and experiences of the people and places of Ikaria. This shared life compels me to tell the stories of these Ikarians, to illuminate their experiences and provide a viewing window into the human spirits that inhabit this majestically rocky island called Ikaria.