A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

wintering in Lebanon

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 16, 2008

This winter has been full of surprising weather – including a number of hailstorms. I love hailstorms – they remind me of Iowa, which has a few each year, and also of Jerusalem. When I was there in 2005, a freak weather pattern descended upon the city, with the result that one Saturday we had rain, snow, hail, and sun all in the same day.

I remember anxiously asking a friend there what would happen to the city if a real snow hit it, since (as with Eastern Seaboard cities like Washington D.C.) Jerusalem did not appear to be rolling in snowplows or trucks of rock salt.

My friend looked at me and frowned. Bulldozers, Diamond, he said. If there’s one thing Israel has, its plenty of bulldozers. Argh.

Anyway – back to Lebanon. This particular hailstorm happened on a weekend afternoon in early February, when I was home and able to grab my camera. After snapping a few pictures, I uploaded them and promptly forgot to post them. The hail is small, but the storm lasted quite a while.

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As you can see, my “gardening” abilities skew more towards tending dirt than plants, but the lovely leafy one above grows away despite my ineptitude.

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My neighbors try to liven up my yard by having their maids sweep clothespins and other debris onto it. There’s not much neighborhood spirit here, let alone any civic pride, so when I ask them not to they huff. I suppose sweeping the clothespins and dirty kleenexes into a pile and then transferring it to a trash can really is too much to ask.

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One thing I love about winter is the starkness of its beauty. I love the elemental look of tree branches – nature stripped to its bare bones.

In Arabic, the word “winter” is used as a verb, and it means “to rain”, since that is what defines winter in most parts of the Middle East. There is a verb for “to rain”, and there is also a verb for “to snow”, but “wintering” is the one that people use, even in English.

I can’t wait for summer, an acquaintance told me last month.

I agree, I said. I get tired of the cold and the rain.

I don’t mind the cold or the rain, my acquaintance said. But I hate it when it winters.

We’re both happy these days – the sun is shining, temperatures are in the 60s, and spring is here.

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