In a time long ago forgotten, a fisherman, his wife, and their son lived peacefully together on a remote island in the restless Aegean Sea. Their weathered cottage stood on a cliff overlooking clusters of drab villages scattered throughout wooded hills.
Paths overgrown with wild herbs and gnarled shrubs wended their way from the family’s cottage down to the island’s busy harbor.
For generations the cottage and the plot of land on which it stood with its commanding view of the sea had remained a cherished inheritance. Over the years, each family that lived there took great pride in preserving the humble beauty of the place.
Like his ancestors before him, the fisherman believed it was in his honor to pass the skills of the fishing trade to his child. From time to time, he would bring his young son along when he headed out to sea in the family’s old row boat.
On days when the boy joined his father, he woke to his mother’s call as darkness was draining from the night sky. He dressed himself just like his father—in overalls, clunky rubber boots, and a scruffy cap.
Before setting out, the boy was sure to grab the wooden flute his parents had made for him to celebrate his christening and to honor the spirit of Saint Loukas, the legendary miracle worker whose name the boy had been given at birth.
Just as Loukas was about to rush off to meet up with his father on the path, his mother handed him the small sack of food she had prepared for their outing. With the family’s pantry nearly empty each and every day, she could only offer Loukas and his father a few slices of bread and a small wedge of cheese to share.
As daylight was brightening, Loukas and his father boarded their boat and rowed out to a shallow channel not far beyond the shore. There they waited for schools of sardines and mullets to fill their net.
Whenever Loukas accompanied his father out to sea, he helped pass the time out on the water by taking up his flute and playing sea songs.
They never tired of hearing the song that honored a trawler’s captain and crew for fighting off a band of pirates on the high seas.
Or the song about the islanders’ lament for fisherfolk lost at sea during a brutal storm.
Or the children’s song that captured the playful spirit of dolphins as they rode a schooner’s bow waves.
Or the songs of mermaids and merlads, sea monsters, and legendary sirens whose singing lured unwary sailors to steer their boats onto rocks that lined the coast.
On days when good luck guided their boat, Loukas and his father returned to the dock by midday with a basket, full to the brim, of fish. Later, Loukas would help his parents sell the day’s catch at the village marketplace along with the herbs the family grew in their modest garden.
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