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  • My Grandpa is and always will be a mountain man. I mean, You can just see how young and refreshed he becomes when out in the mountain valleys, chopping stones and breathing pure mountain air, engulfed in clouds and peaceful silence. If you took away the streams and the trees and the dirt and the rocks, there wouldn't be anything left of him. Grandpa is as much a part of the ecosystem as the birds and the plants.
  • Seyfettin Balcioglu built his mountain top refuge with his own two blistered hands, a cozy little place with a slight view of the Mediterranean Sea between the purple outlines of mountains. A tiny kitchen, two bedrooms, a sweeping tile porch, and an open upstairs section with another little guest bedroom where he sun-dries his walnut, peach, and berry crops. Originally, that little mountain home served as a refuge for hikers and wandering travelers; that's what extra bedrooms were for. My Grandfather, Dede, and my grandmother would take care of the guests for some days and nights before sending them off again. Now, though, years later, it is just my grandfathers den, his gettaway from the burning heat and noise of sea-level life. Infact, he hasn't touched the ocean for 30 years, when he lives just miles from it! This man is truly loyal to his mountain top home.
  • It only fits that Dede calls himself Zeus, king of the mountains. Can you guess why? Only miles from the ancient greek Mount Olympus, my grandfather can't help but feel like the god of it all. Chipping trails with a pick ax through mountains where no man has gone before, managing the water supply from the streams to the residents who live in the mountains, growing orchards and gardens successfully on acres and acres of rocky thin soil and making profit from the harvest are indeed godly feats from an 80 year-old man! Dede seems to have endless strength and energy; and I'm not especially surprised. I mean he is Zeus, right?
  • Grandfather was not only born for the mountains, he was born in the mountains. For most of his childhood, Dede hearded sheep barefoot through the hills, living the mountain life in luxury, even though they were exceptionally poor. At age six, his mother passed away, leaving only a boy, his father, and their flock. Seyfettin did not have an education for a long time; school for him was tending to the cattle and the rest of the land. At age 12, though, he became curious about school and how it worked. He became so curious, one day he just dropped his chores when he heard the school bell ring and headed off with the school kids; no bag, no supplies, no shoes, no anything. Seyfettin sat himself down in the back of a classroom, and listened. Even though the teacher had never seen him before in her class, she let him stay.

    By the time Dede arrived home, he was horrified to learn that the sheep had fled into the hills. Since he'd been sitting in school instead of tending to them, what could you expect? He took a harsh scolding from his furious father; and when asked where in the world he had been, Seyfettin told the truth: School. My Grandfather told his father that he wanted to go to school, and after that, there was no argument. Age twelve, Dede started his education when most kids back then and there had ended their elementary school years! As a young man, seyfettin went off to military school, and in no time joined the army, finding himself as a sergeant major. About three decades of that, and he retired to his mountain refuge, farming the land for work.
  • Many years from then, in the present, Seyfettin is an accomplished old man with an important duty in his mountain home. He has four grandchildren, a good harvest, an exciting past, and a mountain range all his own; what else could a man ask for? Every year, I hike up the precarious trails to his refuge, where there is hardly a such thing as being bored. But living flat on a mountain has its disadvantages, or, to me, advantages. Year-round, Dede is infested with cute lizards. I can't get enough of lizards. It's so surreal when you catch a little reptile, and then have it's tail suddently come of right in your hand!!!! It's all part of the animal's defense, I guess.

    Other then that, there are hundreds of strange animals and bugs that stalk the mountainside. There's the time I saw a huge toad basking at the edge of one of Dede's irrigation ditches that spread throughout the property. And of course there's the tiny little hummingbird, no bigger then a thumb nail. And one of the most terrifying of all, the colossal black bumble bee who's buzz you could here from one hundred meters away. Once, there were even two gigantic snakes wrapped around each other in the yard, dancing a surreal snake dance. But fearless Dede stepped right out of the house with a spear and, hooking the huge snakes onto the stick, catapulted them down into the valley. It was quite a sight!
  • Though now Dede's mountains are getting more and more populated, he can still always find peace and energy in the landscapes and silence of his refuge in the hills. He has a fascinating past, and is no doubt a pro storyteller when it comes to telling about it.
    Grandfather helped the world in his own little way, and now he can just spend his time with his old friends, the rocks and the streams and the trees and the air, King of the mountains for all eternity.


    Notes: The audio is Seyfettin himself, straight from his mountain home on Skype, talking about his school days.


    Image: Dede shows of his harvest of wild thyme
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