There is a magical, almost mystical place known to Israelis as “the North.” The rest of the world knows it as the place where those wars with Lebanon were. But for Israelis, the area has almost legendary status. Most, at some time or another, have wanted/talked about/fantasized about moving up there to live in the lush greenery and quiet, remote peacefulness.
I went up to the North this weekend, and really got to experience it as an Israeli for the first time. I was far, far north – I went on a walk/hike that led to a hill where you could see this perfect little town on a hill, then a dirt road and a fence and the other side, which was Lebanon. The shades of green can’t begin to be described; the landscape is dotted with small towns and communities and kibbutzim and Bedouin and Druze villages and orchards and sunflower fields and rivers. It is hard to imagine that amost a year ago, that was the exact area that was in the middle of all the fighting. It looks so peaceful, idyllic.
I became a little more Israeli this weekend, I think – I loved the area and can’t wait to go back. From the place where I stayed, with a friend, you just walk past the cowshed, through the orchards and cross the dirt road to the river. We jumped in, swam across the current to the other side, swam back, then retraced our steps past the grapefruit then orange then nectarine trees and past the cows, the afternoon sun drying us, back to the house. Next time I want to wander through the fields where the sunflowers are taller than I am, collect more fruit off the trees, and see about more walk/hiking. And I hate hiking. See what power the place has?
It is weird to think about the history of the area. Last summer when everyone thought I was in a war zone in Jerusalem, it was actually this bit of paradise that was the most dangerous. I don’t understand how anyone could have any urge for violent activity when surrounded by such beauty, but maybe that’s just me. When you see the land, and how meaningless human-drawn borders are to the natural order of the world, wars over land don’t make sense any more. Maybe the ancestors had it right, just wandering around and not worrying about what belonged to whom. The ones who did that, I mean.
I still feel drenched in sunshine and peacefulness and greenery. It makes me smile on the inside.