What I Saw

09 Jun 2023

Esme Scott- Stevenson

The romantic Esme Scott- Stevenson, wife of Kyrenia commissioner in 1879, painted a colourful picture of a Cypriot village:

Our path led along the brow of a deep gully, with, on the other side, the sea rolling in with monotonous roar, and the snow-capped mountain ranges in sight; that of Asia Minor behind us, with the Troados (sic) in front, Mount Olympus so white as to dazzle the eyes to look at it. The forest on either side, with its carpet of flowers, made the ride very delightful. Our horses seemed to enjoy the ride as much as we did, and snorted and pranced with pleasure. I felt quite sorry when we got to St. Irene, the last village in my husband’s district. It is different from all other hamlets, and has a most curious appearance from a distance. The earth in this part is of a rich red colour, and being plastered over the mud brick walls, makes them look exactly as though they were painted bright red. Each little house is surrounded by a cactus and prickly pear hedge. Aloes grew in many places, but these are getting very rare in Cyprus, though at one time they could be found all over the island.

During her peregrinations in the northern part of the island, Esme Scott-Stevenson raved over the flora of the island:

A narrow channel of water flowed all the way, which seemed to increase in size the higher we ascended. I saw many lovely flowers on the banks of the stream, asphodels, narcissus and iris especially and, curiously, all belonging to the lily tribe. We had quite left the region of small plants, like those at Kormakiti, behind us… I tried to sit down without crushing the flowers, but the ground was literally carpeted with them. I rested for a quarter of an hour on a bed of lycopodium, which would not only astonish an English gardener, but disgust him with our puny attempts to grow it. Violets, hyacinths and Jerusalem stars grew as thick as daisies. Butterflies of every colour, little brown lizards with turquoise spots and numbers of emerald green frogs, seemed to enjoy the sunshine and the flowers as much as I did.

The 'What I Saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

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