A couple of weeks back I went on a trip to the northern Negev, that’s the south of Israel but not too south, ostensibly to see the anemones. Carpets of red flowers are known to cover the northern Negev at this time. Somehow the timing wasn’t right for the anemones and only relatively small numbers of them showed themselves to us. But I enjoyed the luscious green everywhere.
We walked in a field with the super fresh green stretching to the horizon in all directions. That’s what I needed really, some green that stretches into the distance. In Tel-Aviv I’m in a city and I wanted to get away from the city. But the thing is Israel is so small there were too many of us doing the same thing. Too many of the citizens of the great metropolis had heard of the luscious green of the south and speeded there in their automobiles.
It’s not that I felt too crowded, I felt jealous. I wanted the open vistas to be open more specifically for me. It made it less precious somehow that so many Tel-Avivians were enjoying them at the same time. Couldn’t they stay at home? Walk the dog in the park? Visit grandma? I’m just asking. This was particularly evident when we reached Anemone Hill. This is where Arik Sharon and his wife Lily are laid to rest.
The hill was as crowded as a Tel-Aviv beach; at least one person per flower. I’m exaggerating here but it wasn’t fair. A lot of the time I don’t even leave the city because I know I will be meeting all the rest of them wherever it is I am going. The graves were unmolested and even touching. Very humble, on top of a hill that tends to fill with red flowers when nobody’s watching, and right next to some very large cacti. Arik Sharon’s wife liked sitting here before the place became famous.
And as I said we did go through a field, just a regular extremely green field, where the crowds didn’t bother to come. In the end we reached a nature reserve, where cars driven by young Bedouins were practicing extreme sports. So, on top of all of us coming from the north to observe nature doing its best, there were also the locals, definitely non-Tel-Avivian and lacking any notion of nature protection.
They were having none of it. The Purah Nature Reserve was an excuse for them to drive their cars recklessly up and down the soft soil paths and pay no heed whatsoever to trash collection regulations. It could have been upsetting, except I am used to this already. Wherever you go in Israel it’s small and provides some brand of intense experience. This time it was cars on paths so unfit for driving that at anytime one of four wheels didn’t touch the ground.