A midwinter forage

by Sarah on January 17, 2013

rain drops on window

In kindergarten my boys were taught that yellow and blue make green.  That’s true perhaps in art class but not in life. Green is the alchemy between water and sunlight in their passionate yet brief winter fling.  The land pulsates with photosynthesis- at first tentatively- tiny seeds, dormant from summer, awaken- then continue to grow in a glorious effervescent display. The air is thick with the scent of chlorophyll; every molecule resonates before the insidious summer heat makes its cyclic return.

dandelion {Taraxacum cyprium better known as dandelion. Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.} iris in Israel {Iris palaestina}

These weeks have been wet- the atmosphere heavy and unremitting. It is no longer a phenomenon but a nuisance.  But complaints are short and always end with “we need this rain” or “at least the Kinneret is filling up”.

A few months previously a cloud burst was broadcasted as breaking news across the country.  On cue, radio stations began playing a marathon of rain songs with Phill Collins’s I Wish it Would Rain Down topping the list.  The yoreh (inflection on second syllable) is Hebrew for the first shower that falls after the extended summer drought and marks the coming of winter. It has occurred annually from prehistoric times, yet every year it comes as a complete surprise.  Nobody takes an umbrella despite the weather forecasts- after more than 120 consecutive days of the brightest blue skies- it seems to go against nature.  Those not getting drenched, gaze in wonder at the heavens, calling “Hey, it’s raining! Come see!” Once the novelty wears thin, however, the issue with the municipality drainage system becomes the hot new topic.

almonds and acorns {Left- Almonds. They can be cracked opened and eaten however care should be taken to avoid bitter almonds that contain cyanide. Acorns, on right, can only be eaten after leaching out bitter tannins.}


ramle and surroundings, halil

{Top right- Halil’s hummus restaurant in Ramle, for many the shrine of hummus. Water reservoir near Modi’in. Mosque in Ramle}

So far winter has brought a nice dosage of precipitation with snow being the rarest and most sought-after.   While thousands made their way to higher ground to seek the elusive white stuff, we stayed closer to home. I’d have loved to join them but lacked the stamina to brave the traffic jams.  Instead we explored the tamer views around Modi’in, first stopping in Ramle to buy a few containers of hummus, masabacha and tabouleh for an impromptu picnic.

The boys raced ahead and I, like always, was less interested in our destination than by the numerous plants that seemed to appear overnight.  By late spring most of what I see will have disappeared. Green will only be a color on the palette.

wild edible plants in Israel {Top left- Milk weed (Silybum marianum) with Chrysanthemum coronarium, top right- Mallow (A malva species), bottom left- mustard greens, bottom right- stinging nettle} arum and za'atar and clematis {Left- za’atar (Majorana syriaca), top right- Clematis cirrhosa (not edible but a garden plant), bottom right- Arum, poisonous unless cooked correctly}


And how can we forget, Israel’s favorite rainy day singer……Phil Collins

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