According to Greek mythology, Halcyon was the daughter of the god of the winds, Aeolus. She and her husband Ceyx were married and lived happily together on the beach. The two envisioned themselves a power couple, comparable to Hera and Zeus. This disrespect enraged Zeus, who turned Ceyx into a vulture. Halcyon searched ceaselessly for her missing husband in the seas. As time passed, the Olympian Gods began to pity her and turned her into a seabird with the name Halcyon.
However, Halcyon’s hardships continued. As she laid her eggs not in the spring, like the other birds, but in the middle of winter, the strong waves would draw the eggs and hatchlings away before they had the chance to fly. The heartbreaking cry of Halcyon touched Zeus and the other Olympian Gods. So they decided to make a period of 15 days of good weather in January. During this period, the winds and the sea are calm so that Halcyon can brood her eggs and teach her hatchlings to fly away before they are swept up by the sea.
According to another myth, after Ceyx married Halcyon, he went fishing in the open seas, and strong winds sank his boat. The desperate Halcyon, who was watching from the shore, fell from the rocks and died. Their love was so strong that the Olympian Gods felt sorry for them and turned them into birds: Halcyons.
Those birds laid their eggs in the crevices of the rocks during the winter. In the middle of January, Zeus allowed the weather to warm for few days so the mother could brood the eggs. And this is how these summery days were named Halcyon Days.
Thanks Ceyx, Halcyon and Aeolus for the current mild temperatures and the absence of strong winds. Just before the Halcyon days we experienced some colder weather (10-12 degrees Celsius) that brought snow in the mountains. Yesterdays trip to the Lassiti Plateau was therefore quite impressive. From sunny Agios Nikolaos to snowy Psychro (home of the cave where Zeus was born) was only a short but steep drive.
Lassithi plateau hosted, after the 1950s, the first, largest and most beautiful wind farm in the world with approximately 13000 windmills with a total installed power of above 5MW. The windmills operated as pumping engines above the wells of the plain to water the crops in summer.
The windmills, some of which still stand like ghosts of a bygone era waiting for someone to put them back into service, bore lightweight metal frame and very light sails. For many years, the first tourists of Crete ascended to Lassithi Plateau to admire the landscape with the thousands white sails working tirelessly to water the crops. Unfortunately this memory is imprinted today only in old photographs. There are still some windmills at the courtyards of the taverns, while some of them have been installed at the entrance of the plateau to welcome visitors.
The draft of the first pumping windmills, which were made of wood, was invented by Emmanuel Papadakis from Psichro village (in 1890). After 1900s, about 20 wooden windmills operated in the plateau. The windmills were of the type of single-weather (could not change directions) and the tower was a large tripod. The same inventor later turned the tower to a quadruped and devised a mechanism for rotating the mill along the wind. Later, Stefanos Markakis from village Marmaketo replaced the wood with metal, giving height and better performance, resulting in its current form.
After a healthy vegetarian lunch at the Seli Ambeloy it was (again) short scenic drive to Malia for a walk on the sandy beach. This is definitely the best way to spend winter. We love Crete.
Life is great. One Life. Live It.