I wanted to pay BarbaYannis for his work
taking out the old lemon tree in our garden
and planting a new mandarin tree.
He took some money to pay for Nikos’ digging
and for the tree but he didn’t want anything himself.
Yannis is 80 years old and one of the island’s
few experts on trees, he helps us every year.
But I will buy you a beer next time at
Taverna Kristina, I said.
He shook his head. No beer.
Only Cipporo, he said.
When he passed the taverna later that week
we offered him a glass of that clear white spirit.
It was stronger than Ouzo and too foul for me to drink.
Yannis told us how it made his leg better,
how it helped him get rid of his kidney stones.
In the winter he had it with honey and never caught a cold.
Barba Yannis seems like a young boy, his eyes are
full of energy and mischief and he moves around like
he was 50 years younger.
He climbs our trees like a squirrel
and he has no trouble jumping up
on the roof from the ladder.
I may have to give the Cipporo
Published in The Loulaki Bar, 2009