İlkbahar is coming!

Or, as we might say in the US…Spring has sprung!  Which isn’t exactly true…things are beginning to spring, more in some places than others…


It’s been a very mild winter.  The second and last snow was January 7.  I know that date because I had my residence visa appointment that night, and wanted to keep it, a worry that diminished my joy of the snow day.  January 7 seems so long ago.

Two of three little neighbors...they speak German, English and Turkish.

Two of three little neighbors…they speak German, English and Turkish.

In February we left home every hafta içi (weekday) morning for Turkish class.  There was rain, and some days were raw–high 30’s-low 40’s, but reports from this winter in California sound similar.  Before we got to Turkey I had the idea the winters were like New York, but the ground doesn’t freeze here, and it is only slightly colder than Northern California.

We had a new kapıcı, plus helper, for a few days...

Our temporary kapıcı (doorman), plus helper, for a few days…

I remember that Magnolia trees on the campus at San José State would begin blooming in late January. At home our Chinese Plum tree usually was in full bloom by February 22.  Our tenants confirmed its normal behavior this year.

Jim getting ready to enter our gate, taken from our window above.

Jim getting ready to enter our gate, taken from our window above.

Here in Istanbul I began noticing changes at the beginning of March.  Flower shops had flats and pots out on the sidewalks, and people were stopping and buying.

Then I saw this:

A couple of weeks ago it was still cold, but getting colorful

A couple of weeks ago it was still cold, but getting colorful

Then these…

So bright.

So bright.


Like everywhere else I’ve lived, the first warm weekend of the year brings everyone out.  This past Sunday looked like this:

Jim and Lucy at the back of the promenade.

Jim and Lucy promenade.

Everybody is out sunning…

How many nappers do you see?  Five.

How many nappers do you see?   Five cats lazing in the warmth.  A first hand view of parking challenges in Moda, as well.  We are gladly sans-car.

Lucy is doing the same thing here she did in California…

This spot is why we chose Moda to live...our sea dog in her realm.

This spot is why we chose Moda as our residence…our sea dog in her realm.

Istanbullular (people who live in Istanbul) are outside in winter more than New Yorkers or San Franciscans.  One California/Istanbul friend said Türks sit outside in winter because they like to smoke…maybe, but I was struck when I visited at really how much life here is lived outside.  There are outdoor heaters everywhere in constant use in the winter, day and night. And, there is the charming tradition of the “house pashmina”, color keyed to the restaurant’s decor.

Istanbul at play…

It's hard to see, but the people standing are shooting air guns at the string of balloons.

It’s hard to see, but the people standing are shooting air guns at the string of balloons.


Relaxing in the sun…

T shirts!

T shirts!  Don’t you just relax looking at them?

We fell into step with a guy and his girlfriend…they’d been shooting the balloons.  Though Western, we don’t look like tourists…I had a camera, but nothing else with me, and Lucy was with us. Turks frequently ask if we live here, and seem surprised that we do, which has led to many fun conversations.  Our new friend told us about Turk WebTV…I found a sitcom I’m now going to watch every week as a barometer to how much Turkish I can understand.  I got none of it this week…I wonder how long it will take until I can understand it?  The couple lives in Beyoğlu near Taksim Square, but say they come over to the Kadiköy seaside every weekend.  Maybe we’ll connect up for brunch one day.

Sundays, regardless of the weather, are also football days.  There are 3 Istanbul soccer teams: Beşiktaş, Galatasaray, and Fenerbahçe.   Fenerbahçe’s stadium was on our walking route, and fans had been fueling up — Efes beer, mostly — all afternoon for the game that evening.  Here they are in the park in front of the stadium…

Fenerbahç in their regalia.

Fenerbahçe .fans in their regalia. I think the smoke in the background is BBQ.

Ours is a quiet street and building  but if there is noise, it is on Sunday nights.  If people entertain within our building, it is then.  The waterfront park across the street attracts inebriated fans singing their fight songs.  I am happy that the season won’t go all summer, it ends in May.

Local color.

Local color.

There are a couple of drawbacks to it getting warmer here.  First, the belongings we shipped are still not here, and we originally expected them mid-January.  We were tracking the ship we were told it was on, but last week that boat made its last call in Turkey at the port of Nemrut north of Izmir in the Aegean Sea.  Then it headed to New York, and is now in the North Atlantic.  Our freight forwarder said, “no your boat isn’t headed to New York”, but our stuff will be delayed a couple more days. My annoyance with being “stuffified” at home has been replaced by a longing for my books and artist tools.   I also want the art pieces we packed, and our pots/pans and kitchen knives. It’s been like this for the last 6 weeks, I’m not even asking about it anymore.

Flowering trees, new this week.

Flowering trees, new this week.

Instead I’m shopping!  I packed winter things, and not one piece of warmer weather clothing, in my suitcase.  It got warmer all of a sudden, and our classroom at Tömer is hot, the air conditioning isn’t on yet. In the city, if we are out, we are walking all day, so shoes and purses get a workout.  For Turkish-made purses and shoes, Istanbul is a candy store.

The other drawback is that as the trees fill in, we will lose our view.

These will leaf out...soon.  There's been a lot of branch trimming in the park, we hope they'll do this tree too.

These will leaf out…soon. There’s been a lot of branch trimming in the park, we hope they’ll do this tree too. All those little intermediate branches could go…

Happy sunning…or dreaming of it, depending on where you are..It is supposed to get cold here again in a few days…but “they” keep revising that coldness forecast upwards.

Joyous İlkbahar!

3 thoughts on “İlkbahar is coming!

  1. Keep the blog posts coming. Turkey is a beautiful and not well understood country. I loved that President Obama encouraged Israel and Turkey to mend their broken relationship.

    Spring is slowly emerging in Dallas and Central Texas. The wildflowers, mainly Indian paintbrushes and bluebonnets, are emerging and will be in full bloom in a couple of weeks.


  2. So the neighbor kids speak English, German and Turkish. Don’t you want to be young again when learning language came so easily? Spring is here in the Bay Area and the gardeners just left this afternoon. We planted new ground cover and cleaned up the weeds. I love playing in dirt.


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