Trees and flowers and tumble-dryers  
 
Spring is on its way, and soon we’ll all be getting into our gas guzzlers and driving off to see what’s left of the natural beauty of Cyprus. Driving into the country at springtime is like witnessing a magical world- the fields are covered with a patchwork of wild anemones and poppies in white, red and violet and every shade in between, the almond trees are in bloom, dressed in a brilliant white, butterflies float and flit and flutter from flower to flower, birds are singing and the earth is alive again.
 
Spring is the most beautiful season in Cyprus. Most tourists arrive in the summer, only to be whipped by the rays of the sun, but they seem to like it that way. To me, there is no time like spring-time, and nothing more beautiful than nature in full bloom. To me, a drive up the mountains, a stroll in the countryside and a walk in a quiet mountain village are what life is about.
 
A drive up the mountains north of Paphos should be a beautiful experience. True, when I once went we had to wait for all the goats to cross, but it was actually a joy to see the little ones scampering across the dirt track following the rest of the herd.
 
Turning a corner over another cliff-side, I had to slow down. The track was narrow and the cliff was deep and rocky. And then I saw something that ruined everything- the cliff was littered with several washing machines and fridges, tables, chairs, a bed and a couple of cars. These things were scattered amid the greenery, and between the olive trees, gathering dust on the hillsides around me.
 
In this country we seem to believe that we can treat everything outside our own home as our own personal garbage dump. In the towns, the municipal road cleaners have their work cut out clearing the roads of all the plastic bags, cigarette packets and bits of paper that people throw from their cars, but go and see some of the more derelict parts of our towns, such as the Garyllis river near Ais Antonis in Limassol and you may well find armchairs, household appliances and a whole mess of junk from scrap metal to plastic bottles and pieces of paper.
 
And in this country we have not yet learned to respect nature and keep it clean, not yet realized that it is nature that is keeping our economy alive, that the most beautiful places on the island are those that have been the least influenced by us, the least touched by human hand.
 
But even in the heart of Akamas you will still find the odd plastic bottle or crisp packet, still spot the occasional empty shotgun cartridge, even in places where hunting is prohibited. Washing machines on the mountainsides, plastic bottles in the Akamas forest, furniture in our riverbeds- can we not visit an area of nature beauty without fouling it up with our manmade junk?
 
I don’t know, but this year and every year I will venture out to witness nature in its Sunday best in the hope that I will see the fields and hillsides not peppered with rubbish, in the hope that one day we will have learnt to follow the saying of Chief Seattle and “take only memories and leave nothing but footprints”.  

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