|Walking the dogs in the mountains above Beirut|
The weather is slowly cooling off, and way up in the mountains, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you get caught in swirling fog. It is nice cold in the fog. When I just moved here, I thought that the grey clouds in the mountains meant it was going to rain any minute, but it never does.
Summer is running on its end. People who spent the summer in the mountain villages are packing up to go back to Beirut; most schools are starting this week. The villages empty again, and houses close the shutters.
A troupe of some 15 howling jackals pass my mountain house every night around one, I wonder where they go in winter time. Snow won’t come in for another 3 months at least, and the place is teeming with field mice right now. The shepherds in the mountains, many of them from the other side of the Beqaa Valley, are preparing to truck their sheep and goats back to their villages; another month and a half and it will be too cold at night to stay here.
I count in summers, and so another year has gone by. Saturday, another Lebanese soldier got decapitated by ISIS. Tensions ran high in certain neighborhoods that night. The situation got diffused at the last minute, but that’s been the case for the past year; last minute diffusions of situations that potentially could turn into full-scale battles. The situation used to be easier. There were enemies, and there were friends. It was easy to identify the good and the bad guys. But now good guys hang out with bad guys, while bad guys that beat up other bad guys become, as a result, somehow good guys. And suddenly it is not so easy to explain the situation anymore to someone in Holland when the baddest guy of all becomes a good guy in retrospect, if you compare him to the new bad guys on the block. The mood in town is not an optimistic one.
But up in the mountains, you do not notice any of that.