I’d write something about gardening this evening but I’ll tell you what fellow gardeners I was outside in the yard at 5 a.m., deadheading, pulling up some more echinacea (coneflowers) that showed the tell tale signs of having Aster Yellows disease and when they come up with that there ain’t nothing to do but pull’em up and throw them away, its such a funky dunky disease that you can’t even put them on the compost pile, if I had a compost pile that is…..:-) I watered a few containers even though we had a deluge last night along with some accompanying thunder and lightning. My wife came out and we talked about a few ideas for next year, moved a container or two of Dr.Gihvan phlox paniculata around to fill in a spot where I had pulled up the coneflowers. And then my wife, Linda, came up with two really good design ideas I’d share with you fellow gardeners but I married my own personal garden designer so you’ll either have pay for your own designer or divorce you hubby or wife this week or next and try to find someone you love by next spring or maybe even this fall,. Someone who has wonderful ideas for moving this or that to a certain part of the garden border to heighten or improve the overall effect of the flower drifts or new ideas for complete new plantings for next year…..Don’t hate me cause I married my own personal gardening design genius OK?…..You can be a little envious though, but that’s all……:-)
Well after all that I cleaned out two spots on either side of our front steps of two stands of day-lilies that I was OVER last year and I’m really OVER this year and there’re in a word, GONE…..You ever dug out day-lilies with all their root systems and little thing-a-mah-jigs that look like little underground onions?……Well don’t try it when it’s about 95 degrees…..:-) It’s a BEAR fellow gardeners……:-) So then after a good dose of heat exhaustion and stumbling up the front stairs to collapse for a few moments in the most uncomfortable chair in America, I finally came inside our luxurious home, well luxurious to the extent our air conditioner works like a charm these days……:-) I ate a late lunch, took a shower, fixed my mother’s medicine for her trip this weekend to my sisters and collapsed into the chair I’m sitting in now writing this little story for your enjoyment and to keep me just a little bit sane, just a little bit, day after day after day, just a little bit sane, that’s all I ask for. Not normal, oh that’d be too much to ask for, no just a little sane, enough to keep my wife from having me committed and writing these little stories just might be the key to keeping me out of the crazy…..ah sorry fellow gardeners, a mental rehabilitation institution…..:-)
OK fellow gardeners, here we go……When I lived I lived in Israel I went there with the intention of not coming back. Not because I didn’t like this country, cause like my grandfather and my father before me I always thought and I do now, that this country, the good old US of A is the finest country on earth, PERIOD…..Oh I might be a little prejudice cause I’m from Alabama one of the show places of modern living here in America, but I try not to let that make me too big headed or Ameri-centric……:-)
I’m what you call a Zionist, someone who believes that the founding of the State of Israel was and is a good thing. A good thing and hopefully will stay a good thing for, well for long enough for folks to quit trying to kill each other for religious, geographical, or ideological reasons but until then if ever, I think having a Jewish state is a good idea. I decided after making such a mess of my life here in Alabama that a change of place might be in my self interest and that the State of Israel just might like to have a good old boy like myself as a new citizen. And off I went. You see Israel is looking for young, bright, strong, intelligent, educated young men and women to come to Israel to help build it into a strong, free democratic country, Unfortunately for the State of Israel one day day in 1978 I got off the plane in Tel Aviv to make to my place along with millions of other Jews who were either native to Israel or immigrated there from other countries, a good number of those were folks who survived the death camps the Nazi had decided was good place for their Jewish citizens or just “guests” of the Third Reich. Now that there is a State of Israel, well ain’t nobody going to no death camps anymore without a fight. And that’s all I got say about that, kinda like Forrest Gump would say.
So here I am in Israel, young, foolish, with a backpack with enough camping gear in it to not to have to appear homeless for many years…….:-) I got enough food to last me a week or so, enough travel books about Israel, archaeology and history books about Israel scattered in among all the camping gear that I won’t run out of something relevant to read for at least two years if not longer……:-) And I’m off. Off to what they call Mount Hermon Nature Reserve or Preserve or something like that. It’s located on the slopes of Mt Hermon. The backside of which is split up between Lebanon and Syria, the front side where I was cavorting around aimlessly was in Israeli controlled territory. Up near the Golan Heights.
Now this area is kinda tricky, it’s for enjoying alright, a nature reserve it was, and is, its beautiful, its a historical place also. With some biblical references too like Mount Ba’al-Hermon ( Judges 3:3). It’s is also called Mt. Sion or Mount Siyon (Deuteronomy 4:48). With it’s old Crusader castles nearby, ruins of the Canaanite and Israelite periods, the Roman period, the Ottoman period, the British Mandate period and kibbutzim (communal agricultural farms) and Moshavs (semi or private farms) in the new modern State of Israel period and of course the Paul From Alabama period…Just kidding fellow gardeners. I wasn’t even known as Paul From Alabama back in them days in Israel. No I was known as the tall American guy who talked funny English and even funnier Hebrew. Kinda like listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford if he was trying to speak Hebrew or even scarier yet, sing in Hebrew…..:-)
Well I was walking up the sides of the mountain late one afternoon in what we’d call around here in Alabama a hollow. A deep ravine of sorts along the side of the mountain. And I was fellow gardeners in complete utter amazement. The views into the Hulah Valley were breathtaking, all the way down into the northern Galilee. You could see the border area going towards the Mediterranean Sea and much closer area called the Naphtali Mountains. Sometimes when I was up there you’d be above the clouds, the mountain itself is about 9,400 feet high or so. Looking down at a sea of whitish, reddish clouds hanging over the Northern Galilee is a sight to behold fellow gardeners. But its getting kinda late and I’m looking for a place to lay down for the night.
Now I got to tell you about the “stupid” part of this little story. You see I knew this was a park, a nature reserve, but its also in a mighty tricky place militarily and security wise. The border with Lebanon is within spitting distance and at that time the PLO and our friend and neighbor, Yasser Arafat was hunkered down in Beirut with his merry band of men and every once and awhile they’d try to cross the border into Israel to pay us a friendly visit or NOT so friendly visit……I’m writing tongue in cheek here of course, as I always say you better hunt you a sense of humor if you’re going to live in the Middle East but the terrorist attacks on israel by the PLO back in them days were no joke, just ask the folks at Ma’alot, Israel. A development town not that far from where I was right then as the crow flies, where 27 people were massacred, 22 of which were children by the Democratic Front For The Liberation Of Palestine, a wing or close relative of the PLO at that time. Have we as Israelis killed Palestinians? Yes in war and self defense, but we ain’t much for taking over schools, taking hostages and then murdering innocent kids. I promised myself I wouldn’t ever talk politics in this blog and I know there are two sides to most wars and political tugs of war but I reckon this time I broke my promise and I’m sorry fellow gardeners. I owe you an apology.
So back to “Stupid”…..:-) I find me this cave, not a cave really but a rock overhang, what we’d call in Borden Springs a “rock house”. Not unlike the Rock House I spent a lot time at up in Borden Springs, sitting around a camp fire reading books about Israel, no PLO up at the Rock House in Borden Springs, just revenuers, the Federal Law. I wasn’t scared of the Federal Law back then. I mean what were they going to arrest me for? Reading books about the history and archaeology of Israel?…..:-)
But before I get too cute, let me tell you what happened to me after it got dark and I got settled down in my newly found Rock House on the slopes of Mt. Hermon, in the Hermon Nature Reserve right slap dab where Lebanon, Syria and Israel come together…It was dark and I had a little backpacking candle light thingie that I used to read with at night. It wasn’t much but enough to read by, keep my mind occupied till I fell asleep or…….Or till the an Israeli army patrol came busting into my “Rock House” wanting to know just who in the hell I was and what was I doing up there in that area with a security alert on. (they were pretty sure that there had been some terrorists crossing into Israel in the area.) Who knew about a security alert? Not Paul From Alabama. No I was so smart not only did I not know there was a terrorist alert or security alert or whatever you want to call it but I hadn’t told anyone from the kibbutz where I was going to and that I had gone to spend the night in a “rock house” on the side of Mt. Hermon, I just took off like I was going a stroll on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, not the Northern Golan Heights……:-)
Well it’s my first time spending the night on the side of Mt. Hermon and the first time 5 Israeli soldiers had ever pointed their Uzi machine guns at me too……:-) After I told them who I was, why I was there, well they weren’t anymore impressed with me or my judgement that my daddy was when I quit college……:-) So off we go down the side of the mountain, me, 5 Israeli soldiers armed to the teeth and one dog that keeps snarling at me. I would have told the dog that I really like dogs but I didn’t think that Israeli army dog spoke English, at least not the kind of Alabama style English I spoke……:-)
So we get to the Jeep they got parked on this gravel access road near the bottom of this ravine, kind of what we’d call around here, a pulpwood road……they got one of them army personnel carriers too parked near the Jeep and I ask if its OK if I ride in that, the personnel carrier with the machine gun on top, they weren’t amused nor did they let me ride in the personnel carrier either…..:-) Well we get to this army camp down this other paved road aways….Then the Jeep, the personnel carrier, 5 Israeli soldiers, one attack dog and me whip into the army camp after going through enough security that I thought we was at Lady Gaga concert……:-) They radioed my kibbutz and told them where I was but were nice enough not to tell them were they found me. at least I don’t think they did. My Hebrew wasn’t that good then or now. But they might have told them come to think of it, the kibbutz folks I was staying with, cause the security guy at the kibbutz told me the next day if I was planning on leaving the kibbutz for more than 10 minutes, that from now on to let him know in writing two days before I was planning on walking out through the security fence surrounding the kibbutz for any reason WHATSOEVER…….:-) I said what I always say to folks like my wife, my mother, my father or other folks that are always right, i said YES……:-)
Well all’s well that ends well as they say. I spent the night at the army camp and we stayed up almost all night, me, the 5 Israeli soldiers, the attack dog and about 10 other soldiers who laughed till they all nearly cried at me telling them just why I was up there in that cave at that time of night, on that night and by myself without a weapon, except for my official Boy Scout knife which I hadn’t sharpened even once since the day daddy bought it for me nearly 20 years before…..:) I told them tales of moonshining in Alabama, tales of all night and all weekend poker games with my moonshine buddies, tales of all the characters I grew up with in Piedmont and they all wanted to know what the women in Alabama were like. I told them as far as I knew they looked like Israeli women in most respects even though I’d not seen an Israeli woman naked since I got off the plane in Tel Aviv. But I saw one Israeli girl at the kibbutz swimming pool who had on a swim suit that was no bigger than an 44 cent postage stamp, she looked about like my first girlfriend Flossy Jane, but Flossy Jane’s breathing apparatus wasn’t as large as…….Ah never mind fellow gardeners.……:-)
Paul From Alabama
Addendum #1: Those soldiers that found me that night might have saved my life, it was certainly possible. And even though we all laughed and cut up almost all night at the army camp that night those young men were risking their lives, putting their lives on the line every time they were on patrol. Not unlike our own American soldiers in harms way everyday in Afghanistan or Iraq today. What I did was “Stupid” and its funny now to tell it like this and you got to have a sense of humor to live in the Middle East, especially Israel and all that but I put not only my life in danger but those Israeli soldiers too. And even though like I said we spent the night laughing and listening to me tell small lies and big ones about Alabama, I wish even now I’d met all them under different and more less dangerous circumstances……and that is the TRUTH.
Addendum #2: You maybe asking yourself, “Well Paul From Alabama if living in Israel was darn great and you loved it so much how come you’re living in Piedmont, Alabama now and spending your time writing these goofy little stories everyday, is it just to aggravate us…..:-) A good point fellow gardeners and a good question too. My marriage to my first wife was let us say not working out to my or her satisfaction. Now we didn’t hate each other but some things just aren’t meant to last it seems and my marriage to that young lady was one of them. That and my father’s health was deteriorating and I just figured after six years I’d come back home and see if I could do some good for myself and my family back in the States. And here I am fellow gardeners, yours truly broadcasting and writing to you over the internet from lovely Second Avenue in Piedmont, Alabama. For my money, the fun capital of the South……:-)
Paul From Alabama
Thursday, July 21, 2011