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x0x The Whispering forest: Kure

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  • Turkish Culture List
    [See more on this subject by visiting the pages selected for you by Anita Donohoe: http://turkradio.us/k/kure/ ] x0x The Whispering forest: Kure By AKGUN AKOVA
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2008
      [See more on this subject by visiting the pages
      selected for you by Anita Donohoe:
      http://turkradio.us/k/kure/ ]

      x0x The Whispering forest: Kure


      If you are among those who try to understand the
      language of nature, you will have numerous
      `friends' when you go to Kure.

      The snow begins to be above my knees and really
      slow me down. It is with difficulty that I slog
      along the forest trail, which has been obliterated
      by the snow. "Grit your teeth," I murmur to
      myself, "it's not much further to the waterfall,"
      as miniature icicles start to form on my mustache.
      Suddenly I remember a conversation I had on this
      same trail with villagers in the fall, when they
      were hauling firewood on horseback. One of them
      had said, "The forest here has a spirit. When the
      snow falls hard and the branches are weighed down
      close to snapping, we can hear the trees cry. In
      the spring we hear the joyful shouting of the
      flowers, in summer the birds sing giving thanks to
      life, and in the fall we hear the mushrooms
      talking as they push up through the earth after it
      rains. Anyone who doesn't underestimate the forest
      will begin to hear these voices after a while."

      I had stared at him in amazement, wondering if I
      was in the presence of an Anatolian sage. Or was
      he gently making fun of me, this city slicker from
      far away? I couldn't tell which. When I came to
      the frozen waterfall and set up my tripod, opening
      an umbrella to keep the snow from wetting the
      camera, I heard whispers. With a shiver I strained
      to hear. "Didn't this human come here once
      before?" A tree was asking the question, and
      another replied, "Yes, I recognize him too. He
      thinks he can stop time with that machine." Then
      they broke into laughter. Hours later when I took
      a break at one of the coffeehouses back in the
      county seat, the man making tea saw the smile
      fixed on my face and asked, "Are you all right,
      sir?" "I've never felt better," I answered. "You
      see, I've talked to the trees for the first time
      in my life."


      Kure is a county in the province of Kastamonu, and
      there, as the verse of Ilhan Berk has it, "I made
      friends with some trees." Now the roads must be
      snowed over again there.

      A peasant must be driving his bull calves across
      the Ikicay Bridge as pigeons flutter up from the
      snowy roofs of the wooden houses. A boy will be
      struggling to get a large-combed turkey into its
      coop, and a robin perched on a fence must be
      looking for seed. In the village of Afsarguney an
      old man will be gazing out a green-framed window,
      hoping to catch sight of his son, who is coming
      back from a foreign land. If it's snowing in Kure
      now time has likely frozen, with memories locked
      into the ice.

      In Ottoman days the town was called `Kure'i Nuhas'
      or `Copper Mine,' and its memories include Mehmed
      the Conqueror, for during the capture of Istanbul
      the copper to make the cannon balls came from
      here. In 1898 and 1913 two great fires swallowed
      up the old houses with their licking red flames,
      but the once-vanished county seat stands today,
      surrounded by its forests, like some masterpiece
      of nature. Kure is a world heritage landmark,
      something that merits protection along with the
      beauties hidden in its valleys. There is a wide
      variety of flora ranging from fescue, oriental
      poppies and candle larkspur to the spindle tree,
      green dragon and cornflower. Truly a place worth
      visiting in all four seasons.


      At present, though, herds of boar roam through the
      Kure forests pawing at the snow-covered ground in
      search of food as a blizzard sings the song of
      wild nature. Niyazi Turk, the last sled-maker in
      the village of Afsarimam, smooths a piece of plum
      wood with the jawbone of a horse. Mayor Engin
      Ayranci looks over the snow on the run in the
      village of Beloren where the sled races will be
      held. Although these races had been run for
      centuries they were forgotten at some point until
      Ayranci revived them, and he says that in his
      childhood they had a festival atmosphere. As a
      prize the winner would lead off a two-year-old
      bull calf, and the villages had rivalries to match
      those of the great soccer teams of our day. The
      wealthy sled owners even trained special riders,
      putting them up year round on their farms and
      priming them for the races.

      Now snow must be coming down in fat flakes on
      Kure, where I long to be. The miners will be
      emerging from the entrance to the copper mine,
      relief at once again being above ground evident in
      their faces. And I expect some truck driver on the
      Inebolu highway is having soup at Ecevit Pass. The
      restaurant owner will be telling him how he heard
      from his grandfather that Ataturk ate soup there
      when he came to Kastamonu to announce the reform
      thanks to which Turks gave up the fez and started
      wearing hats. Ecevit soup is nothing to scoff at,
      so get your spoons ready! It's made with rice,
      yoghurt, egg and butter, and the denizens of Kure
      sprinkle dried mint on it as well. The Ikicay
      Bridge hard by the pass is an `architectural hero'
      of the War of Independence, for it carried the
      traffic hauling ammunition from Inebolu, on the
      Black Sea coast, to Ankara and thence to Anatolia.


      Now the Dogancilar Citadel in the village of
      Karadonu, despite a past stretching back to the
      Paphlagonians, will be surrendering to the snow.

      But if you climb up to the top of Elif Dede hill,
      clad as it is in Scotch fir and beech trees, even
      if you can't hear the trees talking you can see
      the town under its blanket of snow. The smoke
      curling up from the chimneys will tell you that
      people who never give up live in those houses, and
      that if you knock on their doors they'll treat you
      like a guest sent from heaven. And to hear what
      the trees are saying? For that you must pass
      through many forests and lovingly embrace many
      trees. In spring, pick up the chicks that have
      fallen from their nests, climb the tree, and place
      the chicks beside their brothers and sisters. In
      summer, lie down and sleep on the grass in the
      shade of a tree, or in autumn do the same on the
      dry leaves. Kneel down by the springs and put your
      lips to their gushing water. And then walk in the
      forests of Kure. When you least expect it you will
      hear the whispers rising from among the leaves.
      That is the precise moment when you will "make
      friends with some trees."

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