It is claimed that the Eskimos have as many as 400 different words for snow. This is a claim which is hotly disputed and even referred to as “The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax”. Be that as it may, in Hebrew, there is (to the best of my knowledge) only one word for the cold, white powder (no, not cocaine 😉 ) – שלג (sheleg – accent on the first syllable).
The reason I bother to mention this is because the whole country is currently on “Snow Alert”. We have been promised (or threatened with – depending on your point of view) snow on Wednesday and Thursday, possibly lasting till Friday. My little nieces are in raptures at the thought and can’t wait. I, on the other hand, must confess to belonging to those who see the predicted blizzard as a threat to be feared rather than enjoyed – for two reasons.
First of all, the last time the country “enjoyed” a snowstorm, thousands of citizens were without telephones or electricity for hours, even days. I was one of the lucky ones who continued to enjoy uninterrupted service throughout the crisis. Parts of my neighbourhood, however, such as the part where my father and stepmother live, were not so fortunate. I do not know what happened in that part of the neighbourhood wherein my new apartment is situated, but I dare not count on being so lucky this time around.
Secondly, in the heavy rains which visited the country a few weeks ago, it became clear that the waterproofing of the roof in my building has been damaged, causing my ceiling to leak in two places in the kitchen. The roof is communal property and the other residents are ready to participate in the cost of repairs but we need to wait till we have three or four dry days in a row, because the roof has to be dry before the sealing material (no pun intended) can be applied and has to remain dry for at least 24 hours afterwards for the sealant to set. By the time agreement had been reached between the neighbours and the decision taken to buy the best materials and do the work ourselves rather than pay at least five times as much to have a professional come in and do it, the run of dry weather which followed the November rains had ended and so we are waiting for the next longish dry spell before the work can be carried out. Since my apartment is on the top floor – you can see why I am really, really worried.
Last week, however, before we acquired the waterproofing and sealing materials, we had several sunny days which saw the early blossoming of the almond trees (which don’t usually bloom till February) in the Elah Valley. (Photo credit: Shmuel Karsch).
It has been said that the carpet of petals that fall from the almond tree resembles a blanket of snow – and, indeed, I remember reading a Spanish legend about a prince of Granada who married a Scandinavian princess. Although in love with her husband, the princess pined for the snows of her native land, so much so that she became ill, and the young man feared his bride would die of sorrow. He took counsel with his wise men and, on their advice, he had almond trees planted secretly beneath the princess’s window. One morning, she awoke to find the garden carpeted with what looked like snow but which had the fragrance of flowers. Overwhelmed by this evidence of her bridegroom’s love for her, she finally settled down and came to love her new country.
A really bad cold prevented me from taking full advantage of last week’s sunshine, however, and by the weekend, the rain was back. (Photo credit: Revital Toren).
So, as my Dad is wont to say – that’s the situation. The country needs the rain. I, on the other hand, most assuredly do not. The children are looking forward to the snow. Yours truly is not.
For the nostalgically minded, I will leave you with some scenes of an Israeli winter, to the sounds of the Nachal Entertainment Troupe performing their 1967 hit גשם בוא (Geshem Bo – “Come, Rain”):
Enjoy the winter, come rain or come shine, wherever you are!