Jer and I spent a lot of time nosing around the outlying villages. I was always so astonished at what I saw. I had to keep reminding myself that there were probably rural areas in the United States where I would be just as astonished at what I saw there....but since I was a city girl and never lived more than 50 miles from where I was born, everything that I saw in the US looked so ordinary. So this is why I loved to photograph the people of Turkey. For me, they were the essence of this remarkable country.
One of my favorite things to do when we were traveling was to be in a town that was having their "market day" on the day we were there. A street would be shut down and all the vendors from near and far would bring their wares and set them up along the street -- both sides and in the middle. Everyone came to market -- and what I saw was literally a visual feast. I saw heads of cabbage and pumpkins so big that they were being sold in pieces, rather than whole. I saw displays of cheeses sitting in bags made of the midsection of a cowhide, sewn together to make a barrel shape and perfect for storing home made cheeses. I saw rugs and cloths spread out in the streets, displays of canarys, more olives that I ever saw in my whole life.... but I also saw women like the one above who didn't rely on a commercial carrier or stroller for her infant but simply tied the baby onto her back. Oh, how I loved those markets.
But best of all was when we, along with our driver, were climbing around an area near a village of Kumbetkoy, fairly near the larger town of Eskisehir, and came upon this young woman tending wheat spread out to dry on large white sheets. It was always easy to find men who wanted their picture taken. Finding women was not so easy. But this lovely woman obliged me and posed with her wheat. Her skin was dry and rough from being out in the sun each day, but she was simply beautiful and was so kind to let me take her picture. I was able to send a photograph back to her from Istanbul after I got them developed. I asked our driver, Ahmet, to tell her how much I appreciated her kindness is letting me take this photograph, and of course he did, and he was the one who arranged a way for me to get the picture back to her.
I have an 8"x10" photograph of her that has hung in our house now for all these years. It is always reminding me, as if I needed reminding, of those magic years we spent in Turkey, seeing the beauty of both its countryside and its people.