When we lived on the island of Kos, we lived in a small village there. Our apartment was pretty close to a church (and down wind from it), so on Sunday mornings we could hear the mellifluous tones of the priest as he sang the Orthodox chants. Soon after we moved there, on occasion we would hear bells being rung at the church, three rings in sets of three. This would go on most of the day when it happened, and I began to wonder at the meaning of these bells. They sounded very different from the amiable bells of Sunday morning services, they had an ominous and dirge-like quality about them.
We found out soon enough that these lugubrious bells were funerary bells, rung on the day someone in the village died. It certainly made sense, given the quality and sound of the bells, but it was a bit daunting at the same time - knowing that these bells signalled someone's death.
In Litochoro we didn't live very close to a church, and I had forgotten the lamenting sounds of the bells. Here in Thessaloniki, however, there are churches on both ends of our street, and this morning I heard them for the first time in over a year - the woeful chimes of death.
It gave me pause for a moment, before I went back to sleep. I shuddered and I wondered how many times they would have to ring the bells for the victims of Katrina.