The Greek island of old age

ikariaOne year ago yesterday – no significantly new headlines but I found this interesting story about the Greek island of Ikaria where the average life expectancy is ten years above the European average.  The article speculates on the reasons for this which include the type of food, the local wine, the slow pace of life, radiation, social cohesion.  There appear to be other ‘hotspots’ like this around the world.  I thought I’d try out a variety of poem forms to express the essence of this story – two haikus, two cinquains and one quatrain.


Sun-baked olives pressed.
Ikarian Shangri-La.
Wine, no stress, old age.

in brevity,
olives, fish, wine
meld seamless in longevity’s

Ikaria, Hellenic jewel
whose udder, olive branch and vine assuage
the creeping claws of time.
You font of youth, dispeller of old age.

Old age.
Olives, fish, goat’s milk,wine
marking time; making age appear

Ikarian air,
majoram, sage, rocket, thyme,
ageless summer wine.


7th January 2013 – headline from the BBC

Notes:  “The Greek island of old age .”  The inhabitants of a small Greek island live on average 10 years longer than the rest of western Europe. So what’s the secret to long life in Ikaria?  It could be the fresh air and the friendly, easy-going, open-door lifestyle. It could be fresh vegetables and goat’s milk.  It could be the mountainous terrain. Everywhere on Ikaria is up, or down, so getting around keeps you fit.  It could even be the natural radiation in the granite rocks. But Stamatis Moraitis thinks he knows what it is.  “It’s the wine,” he says, over a mid-morning glass at his kitchen table. “It’s pure, nothing added. The wine they make commercially has preservatives. That’s no good. But this wine we make ourselves is pure.”  Stamatis celebrated his 98th birthday on New Year’s Day. He says he’s older, but his documents put his date of birth as 1 January 1915. Outside his whitewashed house are his beloved olive trees, his fruit trees, and his vines. He makes about 700 litres of wine a year, he says.


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