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Land & Nature

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Showing 21 - 35 from 35 entries

> Adventure in Wadi Khreitoun
> Birder's Paradise...
> Wadi al-Qilt - St. George Monastery
> Wadi Khreitoun
> Reflections on Spring in Palestine
> Palestine Flowers: Indigenous Symbols of Strength...
> The Rich Flavours of Palestine
> The Jericho Wildlife Monitoring Station
> Palestinians and Traditional Ecological Knowledge
> Wadi Muqlaq Monk caves, eternal silence and a...
> The Extinct Mammals of Palestine
> Wadi Qilt: Nature, Culture and Religion
> Owls in Palestine
> Mar Saba Monastery A place where culture and...
> Dead Sea Sparrow
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Reflections on Spring in Palestine
submitted by This Week In Palestine

Spring: narcissus and iris, anemone and lupine, cyclamen and tulip, daisies and buttercups, hundreds of flowers, all different in kind and colour, all different in bloom and leaf, all part of a glorious manifestation of life, of the immortality of being, in spring, every year in Palestine.

I grew up with an intimacy of spring. As a child I would rejoice to see the first anemone and would mourn the last iris in the fields. Now, more than fifty years later, childhood recollections of the spring seasons in the hills of Ramallah come flooding in, and a host of memories transport me to those days of long ago. I can still feel the excitement that engulfed me, as I and members of my family would start planning "flower picking" outings. I can still hear the gleeful cries of, "Yalla, yalla let's go" as we, the youngsters, would crowd into my uncle's blue car, and off we would go to our familiar destination, where flowers grew abundantly on the hills surrounding Nablus Road.

Flower picking was a ritual that we knew by heart. Once our feet would touch the pebbly gravel at the foot of the hill, we would disperse, canvassing the terraced rocky slopes, dotted with ancient olive trees and sturdy oak. We would remember from past seasons that near that giant olive tree with its rugged hollow bark grow a group of the most beautiful white and purple anemones and that, a short distance beyond, one could find others in radiant pink, nestled amid the familiar red ones carpeting the fields. We would then seek the cyclamen clusters saluting us from their shady, thorny enclaves within deep damp crevices of stately boulders that rose from the fertile earth. The cyclamens were elegant blooms with a myriad of dazzling shades, from the purest of whites to the deepest of pinks, their crowning heart shaped leaves, distinctive and decorated with exquisite arabesques in forest green hues. We loved the cyclamens and rejoiced as their long purple-brown stalks effortlessly glided from the damp soil and rested in our awaiting hands. At times in our excitement and hurry to pick the flowers we would accidentally pull the bulbs too, and with feelings of guilt we would try to plant them back in the fertile earth, for we knew that the womb needs its seeds for another flowering and another spring.

From one spot to another we ran, stopping from time to time to munch on wild herbs like the tangy, vivid green, bushy stalks of fennel or the tiny, tender, piquant, gray-green leaves of thyme. We gathered sage and camomile to take home with us to add to our tea on cold winter nights and we would compare our bouquets: who has the largest, most beautiful one? Which has the rarest of flowers, the most colourful? Then, having rested, we would resume our flower picking, unable to resist the beckoning of a purple iris in the distance. Upwards we moved, guided by the flowers. We climbed the rocky fences and the naturally terraced fields, scratching hands and knees, hair flying, shoes muddied, clothes torn and dishevelled. Unawares, we reached the summit, and there we stopped, breathing in the purity of light and the effervescent freshness of the magic of the Palestinian spring. Alone, like a bird on top of a giant cypress we scanned the horizon, rejoicing in our closeness to earth and sky, embracing our harvest of flowers, celebrating the resurrection and the renewal of life.

Today, as I watch the landscape change around me, the high-rise buildings dotting the gentle rolling hills and asphalt roads penetrating the humble valleys, my heart aches, and I feel the agony of the threatened earth, the pain of the olive trees, the despair of wild flowers as they fall under the power and the brutality of politics and of heavy machinery. Agonized, I watch, as one bereaved, as one who has lost a friend, a loved one, and I know that all that was familiar has become a memory, and that the earth, like men and women, changes and pays the inevitable price of the dynamics of time. Sadly, I bid farewell to the past, and I yearn for the years gone by.

Tania Tamari Nasir
(The above is an excerpt from Spring is Here,
Embroidered Flowers of the Palestinian Spring
by Tania Tamari Nasir and Mary Jabaji
Tamari, published by Turbo Design and the
Institute for Jerusalem Studies, 2002.)

This Week in Palestine, May 2003

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