As I walk along the cobblestone streets of Kars in northeastern Turkey today, snow can still be seen in the hills just outside the city. The sky is blue, and the cheerful sunlight makes even the most somber of Kars’ sturdy basalt homes glow. Tea houses, which sat empty for months as residents waited out winter’s last gasp, now have chairs and tables spilling out of them. Most are occupied by men in wool caps talking soccer scores and, in this dairy region, milk prices. Nearby, in an overgrown lot by the bridge, I spy a man sitting alone beneath a tree. His tablecloth is a newspaper, his lunch, pide, a Turkish flatbread, topped with a thick slice of Emmenthal-like gravyer, a cow’s milk cheese. Of course there is tea too, his meal a solitary celebration of spring.
Rite of Spring