A week ago we signed up for a free, Friday morning field trip to Mt. Gilboa with the Jewish National Fund. I’d been waiting very impatiently since our day trip several weeks ago to the same area because it was too early and there wasn’t a single Gilboa Iris to be seen. When Friday morning rolled around, we woke up to a downpour with black, thundering skies overhead. A call in to the KKL Forest Hot Line to check whether the field trip was on came back with a resounding yes, but… “it might be a good idea to bring boots and an umbrella”. The further north we drove, the more intense the rain became. It was only as we turned east and passed into the Jezreel Valley that the rains began to subside and blue skies began to poke out between the clouds. By the time we reached the meeting point at the foot of Mt. Gilboa, there were mostly blue skies overhead.
The view of the Jezreel Valley below from Mt. Shaul
Our first stop on Mt. Gilboa was to a bluff called Mt. Shaul and the wonderful panorama above. Here, too, there were wildflowers blooming everywhere, including some I had never seen before.
But the highlight of the trip was almost a half hour away, on the other side of the mountain, the Gilboa Iris. Once numerous, blooming in stands over a wide area of the top of the Gilboa near the now almost ironically named “Iris Path”, the flowers are now mostly found in a few secluded pockets at the far east side of the Gilboa in an area near Malkishua.
Everyone on this field trip was there to see this flower. Like the majority of Israeli wildflowers, the Gilboa Iris is a protected species. So with cameras and phone cameras in hand, we spent quite some time photographing them from every angle and then walked back to our cars, about 3/4 kilometer away. Once back in our car, I flipped through the photos I’d taken and noticed that my best picture unfortunately included someone’s foot. What to do?!
Back home and photos downloaded to my computer, I powered up PSE11 and went to work. Every attempt to surgically remove the foot from the photo left me unhappy with the outcome. Then I tried a close crop and to my eye it was the better choice.
I’d really be interested to know how you deal with your photographic near, or even far, misses. Have you taken that “almost” perfect photo that needed more than just a touch-up to salvage it?
After the shower overnight and before the rain this afternoon, there was a glorious, sunny window of opportunity to head out and enjoy the wildflowers that are blooming all over the country.
Following last week’s tumultuous climb out of Nahal Tavor, where the lupines were starting to bloom (my knees haven’t yet recovered from the 300 meter, 45-60° grade incline), hubby and I decided to take it a bit easier this week and head just north of us to the Iris Reserve on Netanya’s sandy dunes near the sea. The reserve is an oasis smack in the middle of what is fast-becoming another high-rise, residential neighborhood and while not currently in danger of being taken over, it was in the past. The Reserve is home to one of Israel’s most beautiful and rare wildflowers, the Black Iris or Iris Ha’argaman in Hebrew, as well as many other annuals. The perfume in the air was delicious!
The camera was misbehaving a bit because in many photos the focus was on the background rather than what I was pointing at and it was difficult to see the LCD screen in the sunlight to check (not to mention being down on my knees at ground-level for a number of shots). If there is anything I do miss about my old Oly, it’s the viewfinder!
Feels a bit odd being out of the holiday loop with Hanukkah (Channukah, whatever) having been so early this year and the civil New Year not really observed by the majority of people here. Meaning, it’s been difficult to get into the “holiday spirit”. Our visit to the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem over the weekend helped a bit. No blaring Xmas music (thank goodness) but lots of decorations. We saw many groups of overseas pilgrims visiting, which is a nice change from a couple of years ago when our friends from the States were visiting at Christmastime and the streets in the Old City were nearly empty. I hope the shopkeepers are at least benefiting from the renewed traffic.
Yes, that is snow on the ground in Jerusalem, which 10 days ago got socked with around 40-50cm of the white stuff and came to a standstill for nearly 5 days. We saw many, many trees and branches that had snapped because of the cold and weight of the snow. No power in some homes for 3-4 days. Heads rolled at the electric company. Will we be prepared for the next time this happens (which is once in a decade or so)? Probably not. It even snowed in Cairo for the first time in a century!
Warm wishes for joyous festivities and a happy, healthy New Year!
The Jewish Festival of Light commemorates the rededication of the Temple following its desecration by the ancient Greeks. The story goes that there was not enough consecrated oil to relight the menorah that stood in the Temple, except for a small amount which miraculously burned for 8 days. Since then we’ve been lighting candles or oil lights to celebrate that miracle and our freedom from religious tyranny.
The special menorah we use during Hanukkah, called Hannukiyah, has places for 8 candles and for the “Shamash”, the candle used to light all the other candles. Over the years the Hannukiyah has been a folk art object and during my visit to the Ha’aretz Museum last week it was interesting to see Hannukiyahs that had been created during the first days of the State of Israel (and before) that venerated our women and men who protected and fought for the Yishuv.
The Med is almost in my backyard and for me is a special place, particularly when the sun is dropping down into the water at sunset. The waves and water reflect the apricot (and sometimes golden) light and turn it into something magical.