Over Pesach, I read a couple of novels for pleasure. One of them was Islands by Anne Rivers Siddons, The novel is about a group of lifelong friends and how they cope with aging and loss. But more to the point, the book is set in Charleston, SC.
I''m pretty sure I''ve been in Charleston, SC at least once in my life, but it left nary an impression on me. For Anne Rivers Siddons, however, Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry are is as vivid as characters in the novel.
Generally, I skim quickly over descriptions of scenery in books, jumping to dialog or drama for much the same reason that I prefer lyrics to music alone. I am exceedingly verbally wired. I didn''t read many of the scenic passages in this book either, but it did occur to me that the author must love that part of the world quite a lot to write about it in such detail. She sees the South Carolina Low country with affectionate eyes and, as a result, she notices its details - its smells, its sounds, its color.
And that inspired me to notice more of the details in the place I love. Even though I don''t yet feel wholly at home here in Israel, there are so many things I love and, inspired by the novel, I tried to remember to notice them.
In grocery stores all over Israel, the aisles of chametz, foods that we don''t eat on Pesach, are covered up. I know this isn''t the prettiest photo, but look below for a detailed image of the graphic.
It says, "Chag Aviv Sameach" in Hebrew. Even the plastic sheeting in the grocery stores in Israel wishes the Jewish People a happy Passover - a happy springtime holiday.
Today, we drove to the Dead Sea on Route 90. We had the Dead Sea to our left and this amazing vista to our right. If you look closely at about 9:00, you''ll see what I think is an opening to one of the many caves in the the area, not far from Kumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. This scenery is 30 minutes from our home and I can go see it whenever I want.
This was a tiny little hop-plop snack bar on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, selling cold drinks and not much else. I loved it so much, I wanted to buy something there, just so it would remain in business.
As we sat at the shaded tables eating lunch, I glanced over and saw this tree. I have no idea what kind it is, but I love it nonetheless because it grows in Israel.
I saw many other things through affectionate eyes today - like floating on my back in the Dead Sea and looking up at this view:
And the Dead Sea mud hole that was, literally, an unadorned hole in the ground. I didn''t get in because I wasn''t sure I would have been able to get out, but I did see lots of these mud people. My mud people.
I''ve loved these last few days of seeing Israel with affectionate eyes.