In Turkey and Turkish culture, we have a tradition of countryside people spending summer time on mountains which is called YAYLA with their cows and sheep etc. Usually these tablelands are on high altitude (our Yayla is 2700 metre high) very cold and covered with snow most of the year. Some Yayla places have trees which are closer to the sea level then others but some have not (see the picture).
In old times, this is done for a reason. To find better grass for animals and make Cheese and Butter for the family to eat during winter time. Also easy to maintain animals on these mountains because there is no need for anybody to wait for them.
Milk and release them in the morning and they go off on to the mountains, feed themselves and come back in towards evening. Totally natural and organic diary food is salted and kept in special wooden containers (barrel like) which lasts long time during the winter.
Usually elderly family members (grand mum and dad etc.) with a younger member of the family (grand child) stayed in Yayla. Others worked in harvesting whatever they had grown in their land such as Tea Leaves, Hazelnuts, Corn etc.
This tradition is also good for elderly people as they spend their time in a totally clean air, high altitude, eating 100% organic food and being active as well.
In modern times of today, most people don’t bother to go to Yayla as they don’t have animals as it used to be and also not so much interested. Day trips done to enjoy the scenery, some families still keep the tradition but only for health reasons. Some roads still needs to be developed to make it easy to travel.
I used to go to our Yayla with my grand mum when I was very young child. She used to make me drink cream of the milk in the morning, just made from fresh milk. In those times, it was pretty primitive (still is in some respect). We had our hut made of stones collected from the area. Covered the roof with thin .5 to 1cm thick, approximately 1 metre long, 15-20 cm wide wooden boards. It was a true nature experience.
As our elders passed away so our Yayla tradition in some ways. When I am in Turkey, I make sure to visit Yayla even if it is for a day trip. We can only go there between June to September. Rest of the year it is covered with snow. There is a project to build a skiing resort very close, so I am hoping this will make the road accessible and even if we can not reach to the hut, can still enjoy surrounding.
29 June 2011