Growing up on Paros, the end of Summer heralded the worst that life could bring to an island kid's existence. Winter jackets, the necessity of shoes, no more swimming, and most devastatingly, homework. Gone were the seemingly endless days of terrorizing the neighbor's goats and digging for treasure (we never found any), and we entered a quieter existence with rigid bedtimes. Ever since I left the island though, I've found myself appreciating the colder, quieter months more and more. So, I'm dedicating a series to the beauty of Paros Beyond Summer to share some of what happens when tourists leave.
It can get lonely without the tourists and constant rotation of visitors coming through our doors, but it's also more peaceful. A lot of locals work their hardest in the Summer months (i.e., the tourist season) and the rest of the year is leisure time.
One of the best things to do during this time, weather permitting, is simply walk. The air is particularly refreshing and you can see a lot further into the distance than in the hot Summer months. On very clear days, you can distinguish the houses on islands that are over 3 hours away by boat.
From a photography perspective, it's much easier shooting in the Winter. Fluffy, large clouds come rolling in, catching the sunlight and creating a dramatic backdrop to everything your camera captures.
If you get really lucky, you'll come across "water still as oil" that'll reflect what's around it and bring radiance to the landscape.
The quiet is a blessing and a curse. If you're a particularly restless person like me, you'll likely end up exploring increasingly obscure parts of the island. It's wonderful being the only car on the road and the only body on a trail when the restlessness kicks in.
Even though I lived on the island and have gone back so many times as an adult, I'm always amazed at how many things I still haven't discovered. The place is so filled with beauty and history that it'll take a lifetime to fully explore.
My favorite part are the small, imperfect structures that dot the interior of the island. Where the coastline is often (over)developed, a ten minute ride inland will bring you face to face with Paros of yesteryear.
The other amazing thing you'll find if you're here beyond Summer is greenery. The island gets covered in what I call Parian grass, which really is clovers. As kids, we spent many hours trying to find a four leaf clover to no avail.
As things are slower beyond Summer, talking to people becomes a national pastime. I particularly like hearing stories from some of the old timers; they describe the furious change that they've seen over their lives with deeply divided emotions. While things may look quaint and even like they're from another era to outsiders, there has been a dramatic change in lifestyles even over my short lifetime.
Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic animals that keep us company through these months. Pets generally can run free and can be a wonderful comfort to come home to, especially on colder days.
Alas, we didn't find pirate treasure in those Summer months as kids. But, coming back to explore the island I grew up on beyond the tourist season is the greatest treasure I could have been given.
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