In about 1994, I ordered a huge bunch of daffodils when the price was right and forgot about the order. I was packed and ready to go to a conference in Europe. I can't remember what or where ... must have been an interesting conference. Then to Turkey to seek out ancient female goddesses. The day before I was to leave, the order arrived - 300 daffodils bulbs. My son, Cary, called to wish me a good trip. I told him the bulbs arrived and he came and planted all those bulbs.

I had beautiful bulbs that next spring, and very quickly, I had only one daffodil plant. I don't know what ate them, but some critter had a fantastic feast. I still have that one daffodil. It comes up each year. I don't know which one of the critters in my garden ate them or why this one was never eaten. When I see it each spring, I remember that wonderful trip.

I was on a public bus traveling across eastern Turkey going from Istanbul to Cappadocia. Along the highway every few miles was a caravansarai, a big building built on the ancient Silk Road, camel trade routes from Istanbul to Armenia and points east. These buildings were solid walls, no windows, and open courtyards. Huge double doors were high and wide enough for a man riding a camel to go through with his herd of sheep or goats. The caravansarais were spaced one day's camel ride apart. Inside, on the main floor, was food and water for humans and animals. On the second floor were rooms for people to sleep. 

Some of these buildings had been converted to service stations and snack bars. I was outside the walls watching some women sitting under a tree, cooking bread on a big steel plate, sitting on rocks placed over a fire. The bread looked like pan.

Hollyhocks grew along the stone wall and I picked a few seed heads that were not quite ripe but I hoped I could get some viable seeds out of them.

Suddenly, a Turkish man, with dark skin, dark hair and beard, came running toward me, grabbed my seed filled left hand, forced my fingers open and slapped the back of my hand hard. It hurt. He turned and ran away. I stood there stunned, wondering what protocol I had violated. 

A moment later he came running back to me with a big grin on his face, carrying a plastic bag full of hollyhock seeds that were ripe. He then proceeded to tell me in Turkish how to plant the seeds. He used his boot to make a line in the dirt, pantomimed putting seeds in the line, and covering them, and then patted the soil down. He pantomimed again watering them with a watering can.

I have the most beautiful hollyhocks growing all through my garden that came from those seeds.

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Comment by Randall Smith on September 27, 2014 at 6:55am
Wonderful! Life is full of surprises.
Comment by Michael Penn on September 26, 2014 at 9:46pm

I was in good shape in those days and my take on it was that I just had repeated muscle cramping, possibly from working out. Whatever this guy did involved nerves and muscles and was done pretty quickly. It was some sort of pressure point release.

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 26, 2014 at 9:36pm

Michael, that is quite an experience. I wonder what was going on to cause the cramping. Obviously, the good doctor knew what he was doing and I would surely like to know what he did and why. Too bad the language barrier stood in the way of learning about your arm. 

Comment by Michael Penn on September 26, 2014 at 9:41am

That's a good story, Joan.

The man slapping your hand reminded me of a story. I was in Barcelona, Spain on military leave once and my hand and arm had been cramping up on me all day. In a bar later I find 2 local men and one of them spoke English. As we talked my hand and arm cramped again violently. The silent one grabbed my arm and I looked surprised. The man that spoke English says "allow him, please. He is a doctor and trying to help you." The silent man pressed around in about 3 places showing great skill and knowledge. I never had the cramps again.



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