Apple Tea in a Fairy Chimney
by Margaret Duda
I feel the strength of my husband’s hand
As he leads me up the uneven steps
Carved into the side of a fairy chimney
In the Göreme Valley of Cappadocia.
We enter a sand-colored room chiseled in tuff,
Settle close on a stone ledge covered with pillows,
Admire the woven carpet beneath our small table,
And inhale the aroma of traveling through time.
A Turkish waiter in a long white robe brings
Apple tea in clear hourglass-shaped cups,
Then lights a tall candle, smiles, and ducks
Back out the door beside a window with no pane.
Fourteen years after my husband’s death,
I reach back across two million years, and
Once again, eternity lets me feel his hand in mine
In the flickering candlelight of a fairy chimney.
PHOTO: Fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, Turkey, by Paul Duda, used by permission.
NOTE: Cappadocia is a historical region in Turkey that includes a variety of natural wonders, including fairy chimneys, also known as hoodoos. A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoos typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations and are mainly found in the desert in dry, hot areas. Hoodoos range in size from the height of an average human to higher than a 10-story building.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Years ago, after my husband’s lecture in Istanbul, we flew to Cappadocia on the Anatolian plains of central Turkey. We wanted to see the Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, as it is said to be unlike any other landscape in the world. We were not disappointed. Part of this rugged area consists of basalt and thick beds of tuff. The tuff is the result of ash emitted from volcanoes millions of years ago, which solidified into a soft rock, and has since been overlain by solidified lava which forms a protective capping. Centuries of wind and rain erosion formed rock pillars, tent rocks, and fairy chimneys with mushroom-like lava caps. The Hittites settled the area first between 1800 and 1200 B.C., followed by Assyrians, Persians, Alexander the Great, the Greeks, Romans, Armenians, and finally the Ottomans in the 15th century. With the help of a monastic clergy, early Christians hid in the secluded valleys and chiseled out homes, churches, and even underground communities in the area, many of which are still inhabited, while others are tourist attractions. My husband and I explored stone structures in the park and nearby towns for several days, but on the final evening, we needed refreshment as the sun was slowly setting. With help from inhabitants, we found a one-room teahouse in a fairy chimney. The scent of apples enveloped us as the darkness of night slowly closed in on two tired, but very happy tourists holding hands in the candlelight of a fairy chimney in Cappadocia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A professional author, photographer, and jewelry designer, Margaret Duda has had her work published in The Kansas Quarterly, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Crosscurrents, The South Carolina Review, The Green River Review, The University Review, Fine Arts Discovery, The Green River Review, Venture, and Silver Birch Press. One of her short stories made the distinctive list of Best American Short Stories. She also had a play produced in Michigan, has had several books of nonfiction published, including Four Centuries of Silver and Traditional Chinese Toggles: Counterweights and Charms, and took travel photographs for the New York Times for 10 years. She lives in Pennsylvania, and is working on the final draft of an immigrant family saga novel set in a steel mill town from 1910 to 1920. She is also writing poetry to find a shred of sanity during this pandemic.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Paul Duda received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in photography from Pennsylvania State University and his Master’s of fine Arts degree in photography with a minor in art history from Pratt Institute in New York City. Over the last three and a half decades, his work is a study of culture in more than 30 countries. He has shown both in the United States and internationally in over 30 one-man exhibitions, including Istanbul and Bozcaada, Turkey, as well as Prague, Czech Republic, and New York City, and has participated in more then 60 group exhibitions. The Vanishing Hutongs of Beijing a photographic study of areas destroyed in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics was published in 2007. Duda has been an instructor of fine art photography for the past 30 years, and since 1992 has owned and operated studioDUDA photography, a fine art photographic studio in New Haven Connecticut.