May 11, 2011

The Standard Sunday Picnic

In the field

I’m running behind. We’ve got several family members from different countries over, so I’ve got a full house. As a result, I’m kind of busy. The coming month, several other people are flying in, so it’s going to stay that way for a while. And maybe the cousin  that was planning on 2 weeks Lebanon and 5 months Australia is going to change that plan as well and get more months out of Lebanon instead of Australia. We’ll see. Last Sunday we went on our usual picnic. 
Can you spot us in the olive grove?
We used to be really sophisticated in our picnics; we’d have salmon with capers, egg salads and tuna fish salads, dry sausages and different kinds of cheeses, chips and all kinds of drinks, little yoghurts in different taste, chocolate cupcakes, crab sticks, different kind of juices, sodas and spirits, and and brown bread and white bread and rice crackers and what not.
These days we drive past Paul (sandwich store in town) and ask the kids, “What sandwich do you want?” It saves you a lot of hassle and they are outdoors so they do not eat anyway; there’s no time for that. 
Family in the olive grove
We drove to Kaftoun, a place up north where I’ve had several picnics. It is a secluded valley alongside a river (Nahr el Jaouz, or Walnut River), and it is filled with wild oak bushes and olive groves.

I will not tell you exactly how to get there, as I like it to stay as empty and specifically clean as it is now, but I can tell you that in order to get there, you’ll end up with a severely scratched car and a long discussion with your husband over why the car is always scratched. I think I mentioned that before. No matter that it is my car. Somehow Lebanese men have an issue with scratches on a car. My requirements for a car are that it needs to be able to drive me from point A to point B, with AC. That’s all. Hubbie wants it to be shiny and clean, both inside and out and no spots on the upholstery. Now that – I assure you – is impossible with kids. And dogs.
We leave our picnic places in general cleaner than we found them. During a beach picnic some weeks ago, we witnessed how 3 groups of people around us just got up and left absolutely ALL THEIR TRASH right there. 
More lounging

 I have never seen the river with running water, although the riverbed, and all kinds of things that hang in branches above the river, indicate that the water can obviously get quite high. The average annual flow rate is about 75.67 (million m3), which is not that bad. The Litani River does about 129.83 (million m3) (source).  Somehow I come here when the source has all dried up. 

More lounging
 The place is obviously beautiful. So beautiful that there are plans of turning it into a national park.  I salute those efforts wholeheartedly. I doubt if these plans are with the government, however. One of the objectives of the project is ‘Creation of job opportunities to minimize the emigration of locals.’ This way you keep the region alive, and populated with people that care for the land. Officially it seems to be a ‘Natural Sites protected by Decision of the Minister of Environment’ (Al Jawz River till outlet Decision no. 22/1998) (Source) , but I am not sure what that entails. It seems paleolithic people were already hanging out in this valley (Source). I don’t blame them.
In the canyon

One guy obviously enjoys the valley so much, he planted a chair in an olive tree. The thing was quite strategically placed. A tree house is a dream for all kids, but a tree chair did the job for ours. I think, however, the reason for putting it there was less romantic. It’s probably an incredibly lazy bird hunter. So much for your protected area, no? I hope he falls out of his chair and breaks his neck.
Kids in the tree chair

And so we whiled away our Sunday in peace. Maybe not peace exactly. One of the family members ended up with a gigantic gash in her head and bled profusely, (all over our picnic blankets) the result of a thrown stone. But that’s the risk of picnicing with our (SIL and I) kids. It helps create memories, events like this, I am thinking. This is one picnic she’ll never forget. :)


Anonymous said...

I clicked on the link you posted, which led me to the website of the designer , which is advertising the page of the ministry of education, which reminded me of your post. I guess an update is in the works?

gorgeous planet said...

Have you been to Deir Al-Nourieh?

Danielle said...

I love the tree chair!

Anonymous said...

Hi Siets! This is Laurence, the one with the gigantic gasp in her head! Just to let you know that I went to the hair dresser today and as the lady looked at the scar on my head as I was asking her to pay attention, she looked at me as if I had participated to the May 1968 riots. Was funny.
I really like the way you narrated the pic nic and the pictures! I was almost still there. Thanks a lot! ;-)