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We'd decided to take the kids and head up into the mountains. It was the summer of 2014, and we were visiting family on the Black Sea coast near Rize, Turkey. My wife's cousin, Mustafa, was an avid photographer and had heard about a village in the mountains near Ayder with beautiful old Ottoman-era homes nestled into the hillside - a perfect destination for a day trip with our families. Upon arrival, we parked the car and began walking along a narrow footpath which meandered into the distance, the first wooden structures already visible both above and below us. Two years living in Istanbul had not only taught me the Turkish language, but I'd learned that Turks are the opposite of camera-shy; that said, politeness dictates that one put down one's camera if an actual person suddenly pops his or her head out of the architectural structure you are in the midst of photographing. More often than not, the person won't mind - but it's always a good idea to ask. And so it was when we found ourselves at the end of the path, having walked the entire village and spoken to a number of warm, genuine folks who have lived on this hillside for hundreds of years. We came upon a woman chopping wood in her front garden, but she downed tools as soon as she saw us and insisted we join her for tea and stories. What followed was a memorable conversation chronicling her life in the valley. Her family could trace its roots back deep into the time of Ottoman rule; the house had stood on this spot for nearly 600 years. And if we can derive any historical narratives from contemporary practices, I can only imagine that Black Sea women - then as now - were working hard the entire day, not only handling the work around the house but doing everything in the fields as well. When we'd finished and it was time to take our leave, she graciously permitted me to take a photo - which I printed out and delivered to her the following week, as promised. To her and the billions of women like her around the world who make sure stuff gets done and the food is on the table and the kids are fed and clothed and the harvest is in - we are grateful!
 

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