Israel Retrospective, 7Mar2014

Summer is Icumen in,
Loudly sing, cuckoo!
Grows the seed and blows the mead,
And springs the wood anew;
Sing, cuckoo!

Spring has sprung! A few days ago I noticed buds on the ends of the branches of the twistiest Dr. Seuss tree I’ve ever seen. Today pale green leaves that look like tiny hands have appeared. They actually heighten the Dr. Seuss effect, which I didn’t think was possible.

It’s been getting warmer, too. Part of that has to do with a dust cloud that has been hovering for the past week or so, trapping heat close to the ground at night. Part of it has to do with the longer days. The combination of dusty haze and brighter rays has me in a constant, sun-glazed daze. Despite my rhyming ways I’m actually serious, it’s been hellishly hot recently. Normally it’s warm during the day and cold as soon as the sun goes down, but with the dust blowing up from Egypt (that’s where it’s coming from apparently?) heat is trapped at night, so it cools down, but doesn’t get cold.

I’d like to clarify that when I say “hot” I mean that today it was in the thirties Celsius for much of the day. For the uninitiated, that is the high eighties and low nineties Fahrenheit. In other words, really bloody hot. All of the desert types I live with were basking like lizards, while I quietly sweltered away in a dehydrated, headachey puddle of sunburn. I pretty much mainlined cups of water for about three hours in an attempt to stop myself from shriveling up into a dry husk of a person and blowing away.

It’s not the heat, actually, that gets to me. I’m not joking when I say I like the desert. Dry heat is much easier to handle and enjoy than humidity, even when it’s ninety-five degrees in the shade. I just drink a lot of water and resign myself to being mildly dehydrated no matter what. What gets me is the sun. I’ve never felt quite so threatened by the sun. It is entirely merciless here – too hot, too bright, too close for comfort. It feels less like light and more like fire. Less like a candle and more like a blowtorch. It feels dangerous in a way I’m not used to. Some days the sun is so bright that it washes the colour out of the world. I’m not adapted to the directness of the light here, where there is nothing in the air to diffuse the glare. The closest thing I can compare it to is snow-blindness, when everything is so glittering white that your eyes can’t handle it, and you have to wear eye protection. In the winter though, the slant of the Earth makes the light travel farther to get to you. It’s more immediate here. There’s no snow to act as a middleman.

Shabbat Shalom from me and my epic sunburn! I’m fighting a losing battle against a really wicked Farmer Tan. On the other hand, my Teva tan is coming along nicely.


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