Incredible Okçular!

Testing – Testing

This post is by way of a try-out for a slide show – so maybe you’ll see it, and maybe you won’t. Maybe it’ll be here later and maybe it will have been kicked into touch! Maybe it’ll be something different from the usual waffle – and maybe it won’t!

If it works, here are just some of the beautiful ‘Orchids of Okçular’ – if it doesn’t work then here are not some of the beautiful ‘Orchids of Okçular’!
[levo cats=8]

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


The Way To a (Wo)man’s Heart Is Through Her . .

Even occasional readers of the twaddle on this blog will know about J and her compost heaps – her passion and love for that which enriches her soil knows no bounds! A few years ago, a professor of horticultural science from our local university suggested that she should accompany him to meetings with local farmers in an attempt to educate them on the benefits of composting. She is also very enthusiastic for the creatures that show their appreciation of her efforts by moving in to the centrally heated, organic warehouses that are her heaps. (these heaps get hot enough to cook in and to prove the point, I did) Huge grubs are proudly displayed; mouse nests are carefully moved and blinking great, fat toads are gently transferred to new homes away from the dangers of her garden fork whenever she sets about the job of moving her ‘pride and joy’ from bin to garden.

a pat in the right place

Now, J and I have been together for a long time – a fact that never ceases to surprise and delight us. Expectations that a hot-house rose from Zambia, or a half pound box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray will be all that is needed to curry a favour or two, have faded as cholesterol and blood pressure pills (together with a red meat, salt and fat free diet) have kicked in. However, with age and experience comes a wily cunning – I know exactly how to woo the lady of my life, and set her Yorkshire heart a flutter. The days of climbing up the vine to her balcony, rose clamped between teeth, may be over, but a pat in the right place at the right time is all it takes!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Incredible Okçular!

“Come Into The Garden, Maud(lin) – tra-la-la!”

Toprakana - Mother Earth
Toprakana - Mother Earth

Good old ‘Toprakana’ (Mother Earth); she knows when to put on a show to cheer up her supporters. Faced with the destruction being wrought by Dalyan Belediye on one side of our house, she has raised the proverbial ‘two-fingered salute’ by scattering a small selection of her finest works on the bit of hillside we call our back garden.

Here’s a few of her offerings to ‘warm the cockles of your heart!’ No more being maudlin!

Funny sort of word, ‘maudlin’ – meaning sad and tearful it’s derived from old English from Mary Magdelene, sad and weeping at the tomb of Jesus. Magdelene College, Oxford is pronounced ‘Maudlin’ – not many people know that!



Giant Orchid – Himantoglossum robertianum (formerly Barlia robertiana)

This beauty is not uncommon but is rather ‘picky’ where it lives – grows in profusion around the mountains and valleys of Okçular.

Wild Peach - Prunus persicum

Wild peach is easy to distinguish from Almond blossom by the deeper pink of the petals.

Woodcock Orchid - Ophrys scolapax

Woodcock Orchids are incredibly ‘promiscuous’ and appear in many guises.

Friar's or Monk's Cowl - Arisarum vulgari

Monk’s Cowl is a member of the Arum family and a plant of shady, damper spots.

Laurustinus or Viburnum tinus

This beautiful shrub is a veritable ‘honey-pot’ of a plant, attracting many insects.

Liquid Amber or Frankincense Tree - Liquidamber orientalis

The Liquid Amber or Frankincense Tree is a remarkable tree with remarkable properties, to learn more, click the link. It is endemic to SW Turkey and grows around Okçular and my garden. This picture shows the two red, drooping female flowers and the fine, upstanding male in the middle (seems pretty normal to me!).

Fritillaria carica ssp carica

These delicate Fritillaria are a joy to see; together with F. acmopetala, F. sibthorpiana and F. whittalii they make the family that I know around here.

Fritillaria carica ssp carica

. . and to finish, a simple, beautiful daisy.

Southern Daisy - Bellis sylvestris

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Incredible Okçular!

Mister Bird

Little Owl
Little Owl checking out the goings-on in the spare bedroom

My fellow villagers are a funny old lot – farmers almost to a man (or woman) and mostly country born and bred. Even so, when I ask them what that is – indicating a dragonfly or cricket – ‘Böcek!’ they exclaim. And that? (a beetle) ‘Böcek!’

It’s the same with birds – what do you call that? (jay) ‘Kuş!’ And that? (robin) ‘Kuş!’ There are few exceptions and this continues to astound me, even after 15 years.

When I was a kid growing up in the countryside we bumpkins knew the names of every reptile, insect and bird species whose eggs we plundered for our collections (do be forgiving, nobody had heard of environmentalism back then; this was how it was!). Many of the creatures were known by their local name – it was years before I realised that a ‘Throssle’ was a Song Thrush. Here in Okçular there doesn’t seem to be the same interest, a böcek is a böcek and a kuş is a kuş – what else do you need to know?

Mind you, there is one particular exception, ‘Baykuş’ or Mister Bird. Mister Bird is an owl, which is a dignified and appropriate term of address for a most dignified and intelligent looking creature.

Owls are not let off the ‘böcek’ or ‘kuş’ hook entirely. There are Little Owls, Scops Owls, Tawny Owls and other owls – but they are, to a bird, all labelled with the same monika – ‘Baykuş’ – Mister Birds to a man (or woman).

Tawny Owl

Turks are also a bit superstitious about owls, seeing them as bringers of bad luck – harbingers of doom and such. All of which causes our neighbours some consternation because for a number of years we’ve had a beautiful Tawny Owl living in one of our chimney pots. Not only consternation but incredulity that we are happy about it! In fact, we give off so many happy vibes that, this winter a second Tawny has moved into an adjacent condo – two down, two to go! We also get visits from Little Owls and Scops Owls.

Living where we do at the edge of the forest, without street lights (another source of neighbourly worry and consternation) and other distractions, we can sit outside or lie abed and listen to these beautiful creatures calling and answering each other. When the stars are out or the moon is high they add extra enchantment to an already spellbinding experience.

Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo)

Soon after we moved here, J was driving home quite late one evening and had stopped the car just outside our gate. I went out to see what the problem was and was treated to the most fantastic sight – standing in the beam of the headlights was an enormous bird – an Eagle Owl! J’s nose was glued to the windscreen watching this magnificent creature from just a few metres away. The owl sat there for a while before gathering itself and lifting off silently and disappearing into the night like something returning to another dimension. This is the only Eagle Owl I’ve been fortunate enough to see here – the experience is burned into my memory banks.

I don’t have any photos of that night, so we must make do with these stock images.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

and just after you've really pissed it off!
'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Yuvarlakçay – Two Years On – The T-Shirt

Occupy cartoon
'Occupy Everything'

My last post, ‘Yuvarlakçay – Two Years On’ complete with video of the ‘Lionesses’ raised a lot of interest, especially via social networking. Many found the story of protest against corporate greed and bureaucratic vindictiveness heartwarming and fascinating and were encouraged; especially in these times of protest and ‘occupy’ around the world.

I was amazed to learn, for example, that some students in the US were ‘aghast’ that community organising could happen ‘in a country like Turkey’. For me it illustrates very clearly how wrapped up in ourselves we ‘Westerners’ can be – how Orientalism lives on by feeding on a diet of ignorance, intolerance and general lack of interest in the lives, culture and social conditions of so many of our fellow human beings.

That said, this post is about a quick follow-up on the situation for the Yuvarlakçay River and the villagers of Pınarköy who were the backbone of the resistance.

military at Yuvarlakcay
the military arrive . .

Many of you asked if the battle was won, and my answer was a provisional ‘Yes!’ Today came

Yuvarlakcay villagers stop military
. . and the villagers stop them

confirmation from the Yuvarlakçay Protection Platform (organising committee and supporters) that the law suits against the following bureaucratic organisations of the state had all been successful – Governorship of Muğla (our province); State Waterworks Directorate; General Directorate of Forests; Muğla Provincial Administration; Muğla Provincial Directorate of Environment; Muğla Regional Office for Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage; Environmental Protection Authority for Special Areas; Ministry of Culture and the Energy Market Regulation Authority.

I invite you to read that list again – and applaud the efforts of our pro bono lawyer Berna and the determination of the people!

Yuvarlakcay general assembly occupy style
General Assembly just like the Occupy Movement

The Government filed law suits against a number of protestors by way of intimidation – all

Yuvarlakcay women chained to tree
women chained themselves to 'Tree 23' to prevent cutting

have been dismissed!

17 villagers were targeted by the government and had fines imposed for so-called ‘illegal’ buildings – we are awaiting the outcome of appeals. Whatever the result people will stand together and share any burden.

The campaign raised a fighting fund of TL41,491 (Turkish Lira) from personal donations and TL13,390 from activities. After all expenses (the

Yuvarlakcay 'Tree 23' is now a Wishing Tree
'Tree 23' saved and now a Wishing Tree

lawyers worked for free but the courts, advertising, fuel, food, media, etc cost money) there was a surplus of TL1184 which was donated for projects at Pınarköy Junior School, as previously agreed.

Meanwhile, to quote the Platform and villagers, ‘our eyes will be wide open for any threat.’

Just writing this has made me feel good – I hope our success will inspire you and others to stand up against all that is rotten in the economic system. As a fellow blogger commented ‘People Power At Its Best!’

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü


Yuvarlakcay villagers on tree-planting
villagers march with new saplings to replace cut trees
Yuvarlakcay planting trees
planting for our future
Yuvarlakcay Torchlight Protest
New Years Eve 2009 Torchlight protest

Yuvarlakcay New Years Eve 2009