Monday, March 16, 2015


In the early sixties my family used to drive to a country place we called the Kazakh Café for picnics with friends.

This place was about 10 km outside the town of Aydın, right off the two lane highway taking us to Izmir. The packed dirt road that we turned into when we arrived lead to one maybe two villages. The man who owned the café must have lived in one of those villages and he must have emigrated from Kazakhstan. We didn’t call his place the Kazakh’s Café we simply called it the Kazakh Café-Kazak Kahvesi.

I remember us staying on into the night one time. This place did not have electricity so the luxes were lit. They had the latest kerosene lanterns with a pressure pump that we simply called luxe as in a luxe lamp (lüks lambası) back then. The light these lanterns gave off was quite bright and the kerosene burned with a reassuring hiss.

                                                                                                 A luxe lamp

I never again in my life encountered true darkness as the one I came to know that night. We youngsters had decided to play hide and seek. After we scattered around, the ‘it’ was left near the building in the flood of light from the lamps. Those of us hiding were standing a mere meter away in the dark and teasing him. He could not see us and did not dare step into the darkness. That was a unique experience.

The second thing I remember from the Kazakh Café is the flower bed the owner had on the other side of the dirt road across from the café. Along with various small flowers he had planted some gaillardia.  Blanketflower (Gaillardia pulchella) in Marineland, Florida, Author Ebyabe

Gaillardia or blanket flower as they are commonly known is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family Asteraceae. It was named after M. Gaillard de Merentonneau [or perhaps Charentonneau] who was an 18th century French patron of botanists. Interestingly gaillardia is native to North America and Mexico. The common name blanket or Indian blanket comes from the colors resembling the ones used in Native American woven blankets.

There are more than two dozen species of Gaillardia. Gaillardia pulchella seen in the photographs is the kind I remember. This annual plant has daisy like flowers that can be yellow, orange or red. I remember red ones with yellow rims from the Kazakh Café.

Blanket flowers are good for hot, sunny gardens. Flowers which are 5 cm across open up in the summer and continue to appear into early fall. Blankets form slowly spreading mounds, bush-like clusters that can spread about 30 cm. Blanket blossoms are quite attractive to butterflies, and these annual flowers will reseed themselves easily.

                                                                             My parents beside our 1960 Chevrolet


  1. Hi Beste - those early holidays are often so magical ... and darkness as children experience can be life changing sometimes ... Love the Blanket flowers (Asters as I know them) .. we had lots of them in South Africa .. and I expect they're here now as we get warmer and drier. Cheers Hilary

  2. Hello Hilary. South Africa is a very special region with numerous endemic plants. You must have discovered many of them when you lived there.

  3. I still haven't really been somewhere that was truly dark. Would love to see stars!

  4. I don't think one can easily find true darkness anywhere anymore.