December 06, 2015

First Kind of Ice

First kind of ice, ready to break

I was going to write this post about how the weather was absolutely stunning, and that it was like summer and that we still had dinners outside on the balcony and that this global warming thing was definitely making its mark.
But then suddenly the wind turned and came in from the northeast, and now magically winter has arrived. Almost like clockwork, it’s not quite December 21st yet. 
I am writing this from the mountains where it is currently 0 C° at 1,000 meters and I am sitting almost in the fireplace.

hoarfrost (bet you didn't know that word)

This morning I went for an 8 o’clock morning hike through the neighborhood, and suddenly it hit me; it’s really winter!
It froze last night, and the first ice was on the ground. The plants in the shade were still covered in hoarfrost, and the shallow puddles and ponds had a thin layer of ice on them. I did what every child does with the first frost; I broke the ice of every single puddle I encountered. There’s something magical about that; breaking that first ice. 

Second ice is like glass.

I just read a book the other day, 12 Kinds of Ice, a memoir of someone’s childhood in winter, about that ‘first kind of ice, a skim so thin it breaks when the children touch it. Second ice is like glass. But third ice doesn’t break.’

It will be some time before we get to the third kind of ice, but it looks like we have a good winter coming.
I know for people in the west it's sometimes difficult to grasp that the Middle East - unanimous with deserts and heat - actually experiences real winters.

The town smelled of firewood; some people heat their houses with wood. We bought an enormous load of cherry and olive wood; a by-product from the orchards in the neighborhood that trimmed their trees this falls. It’s the season to be jolly.

And although Thanksgiving already passed (which we do not celebrate in Holland, btw), there’s so much to be thankful for.  I drove through the Beqaa Valley earlier this week, and the potato harvest was in full swing. Entire Syrian families were picking up potatoes, from grandma to grand child, behind the tractor churning over the soil. I wanted to take pictures, but I had my 13 year old daughter with me, and thought it insensitive to come and ogle 13 year old refugee girls having to work for a living while my 13 year old sits in the car, busy whatsapping her friends. A world of difference is a real thing in this part of the world.

The village, with Jabel Kneisseh in the background

And while I am all happy with my ‘first kind of ice’, and wait in anticipation for the winter season, with my chimney and my stack of firewood, they probably dread the winter, in their tents, maybe with a stove, but no heater fuel. Something to ponder over.

Sunset in the mountains (Jabal Kneisseh again)


Elie Touma said...

Wonderful,wonderful wonderful Sietske showing us and making us feel the start of the new winter season. As always, you show us city people things we do not know much about. Very informative and lovely photos of Lebanon. Many thanks again.

Sietske said...

Thank you Elie!!!