By Robin B. Zeiger, Ph.D.
I hope I never lose the wonderment. I grew up as a "city girl. Now I have finally arrived in the "countryside" of Emek Hefer and I love every minute of it. I have decided that spring here is definitely my favorite season.
I walk my dogs in the fields next to the blooming wildflowers. I admire my neighbor's gardens. I watch the farmers work. And every day on my way to Hebrew Ulpan, I drive along t the coastal road and watch the ever-changing sea. Our beach, albeit close to the city of Netanya, is more peaceful and much less traversed. The sea gifts me with peace and inspiration to think and to write. . Sometimes I even sneak away to a favorite beachside restaurant to have a coffee hafoch (Israeli latte) and work on a project with my trusty laptop.
Spring here has provided me a cornucopia of new experiences. In my mind, the season officially opens with Tu'beshvat (the anniversary of the trees). We sanctified the day by visiting our neighbor, Yehoshua Teller's orchards. The orchards have a long history in his family of three generations. Nothing beats oranges off the trees.
That same day, with much emotion, my husband witnessed the tree planting ceremony of the school children in the K'far (our village). One of the participants Gideon Klar, a grandfather told about his memories of planting trees as a young child. In amazement, Jonathan bore witness the fruits of his childhood labors, regal trees that lovingly shade the path. Interestingly one of Gideon's claims to fame is that he was the first person actually born here in the K'far. His mother went into labor at night, at that time when it was much too dangerous to travel to the hospital in the dark.
Recently, Jonathan and I participated in a Friday morning spring tiyul (short hike) organized by the regional council, to show off the agriculture of the Emek Hefer region. The paths wound through the fields and orchards and were decorated with art, poems, and biblical pieces related to nature. Along the way, we were greeted by groups of local school children who performed and/or spoke about the importance of nature. I even stopped to drum along the way. We were treated to fresh picked oranges and some scrumptious dates.
Even our dogs seem to give a 5-star rating to the surroundings. They can reconnect with real dog life (none of that city stuff anymore). Recently, Lexie and Snickers took off after a passing flock of long-haired goats. Snickers wasn't too bad at herding, although I doubt that the shepherd appreciated the help.
I have one problem. It is hard to decide which piece of the outdoors I appreciate the most. I think my traverse along the seaside probably wins. Why don't you come and join me for a cup of coffee and we can watch the sunset over the water? Then you can help me vote for the most inspiring spot In Emek Hefer.
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