Letters made of nature and love
Letters made of nature and love
“The Letters on Syros was a project of my grandfather, who basically hid his great love for poetry. He wanted to bring back to this point of the island the trees that had existed many centuries before, before they were cut down to build homes and ships. It was an unreal, almost crazy idea, but today a small forest surrounds the area of Letters. “
The story told in “K” by Elaise Pearson, granddaughter of American economist John Pearson, has its origins many decades back. It was the early 1960s when her grandfather traveled for the first time in the Aegean Sea and was impressed by the beauty of the Greek islands. What surprised him was the “naked” landscape and desertification that at that time presented the Cycladic islands. From then on, the American traveler – who in his time worked as an economist for the US government and then for the United Nations – would launch a campaign to “live” this “stripped” area, deciding, after research, that the appropriate a place to make his vision true was the area of Letras, in Ano Meria, Syros.
“Pirson had received the classical education and knew through extracts from Homer and other ancient writers that the islands in ancient times were overgrown,” writes and activist Teos Romvos, who lives in Syros and is studying for a long time years of life and the work of the American economist. In 1964, Pirsson visited Syros with his son, John Pirson the youngest and bought an area of about 900 acres in the northernmost part of the island. There he began to create a first nursery, digging with great difficulty two wells in the rocks. “With patience and determination he planted thousands of seeds and began to spend several months in Apano Meria, taking care of the trees. She learned from the farmers the way of anhydrous cultivation and after making grooves on the sheltered slopes he planted in seedlings series, “says the author.
In the early years, Pearson planted 18,000 seedlings and then a few more, but due to the strong winds, about 5,000 of them survived.
At first, the locals looked suspiciously at the attempt of the American traveler who often went to the edge of the island to take care of his favorite trees. Some, in fact, claimed that Pearson had bought the estate because he had found oil, while some others believed he was a carpenter. Soon, they realized that “Giannis the American” – as they later called him – was a kind man who had a vision for their island. “Part of the vision was his scientific position that the trees retain the soil and over the years will improve the flora of the place,” says Panos Krystallis, who met John Pearson in the late 1960s and today he remains a partner but also a close friend of the family. “He often expressed the hope that his project would act as an example to be imitated by others. Today, the results of his effort are appreciated by all, and some, such as the Syros Walking Club, visit the area with a willingness to offer, “says Mr. Krystallis.
In 1973, John Pearson’s book Island in Greece was published in the United States, in which he endeavored to restore the natural beauty of the forest to a piece of land. Pirson, who died in September 2001 at the age of 95, had the last wish to scatter his ash in his favorite forest in Syros.
At the “American Beach”
Grammata, to the north of the island, with the beach of Gria Spilia (known as “American Beach”), are flooded by tall trees, mainly pine trees and cypress trees. To see the beach, it reaches either by road (as a point and then walks 35-45 minutes) or by boat. Yannis Manousos, from Syros, who regularly visits the island, says that this beach is a magical place because of the surrounding forest. “It is amazing that the place itself actually protects nature and all this is due to the effort of a man who loved our island as few as he does,” he explains. Elaise Pearson, her granddaughter, “Giannis the American,” who lives and works in New York,is still visiting the family estate, on the island she has so loved, to oversee her grandfather’s work, which has been going on for so many decades. “He gave us the idea that the minimum is better. Instead of taking a piece of land and building it, it left it open and free. So he allowed us to see what existed before man intervened to “improve” what nature had already done in an amazing way, “he says in” K “and concludes:
” My grandfather loved the challenge, the adventure and everyone those who met along the way and guided him. He may have been stranger to the place, but the people of Syros embraced him and over the years he turned into an “honorable Greek”, at least as I have in my mind. “