April 23, 2016

Spring Time

It’s spring time, and all over the mountains, the place is breaking out in a myriad of vivid greens.
Go one month earlier, and you get bogged down in mud. Go one month later, and you miss the flowers in bloom.
April is the time of the year to go on long hikes, not sweat to death, and see the colors of this place. I haven’t done any long hikes lately, but I am following a few people that are currently doing the 2016 LMT Thru walk, and so I tag along in spirit. My bucket list grows and grows. The MLT is one of them.
Several researches have come out lately heralding the benefits of long distance hiking, and even short distance are good for your mental health; a 50-minute walk in nature can improve your mood, decrease your anxiety and even improve your memory.
I do my short walks, with dogs, to work, and get into nature and the mountains as often as my work permits me.

This week I was with a group of younger kids, and it dawned on me I knew none of the names of the flowers and plants. I mean, I know them, but only in my language. Plant names and the names of trees is something you will only master in your native language, but something you apparently never pick up again. A colleague laughed at my dilemma. “Who needs to know, you’ve got an app for that.”
And darn right; There is an app for that!  A bit apprehensive at first, because what can a computer really recognize as far as plant life is concerned, and it’s only geared for western Europe, but it seems Lebanese plant life is not that far off from European plant life.
And with my phone in my hand, I am like Lara Croft with a botanist specialization!
There are flower identification guides in Lebanon, but for some mind-boggling reason, they spread the inventory over 3 different books. I will hike with one flower guide in my pocket, but three books is pushing it. The logic of it all.  Why do they not turn it into an app?

And so here I hike, with my phone and app in hand and look what I identified for you on just one hike in the mountains above Beirut? Not even that high, just about 900 meters above sea level.
Some 25 year ago, phones were still stuck to the wall, and the most advanced technology was a fax machine stuck to a land line. We’ve come quite a bit since then.

A centipede (um arba arbaim)

No app for insects though, or snakes. Otherwise I could tell you what you’re seeing here. I think it is an ‘um arba arbaim’ ; a ’44-legged mama’, as they call it here.  In Dutch its name implies it has a 1000 legs (duizendpoot), in English a 100 legs (centipede), but in Arabic it’s got a mere 44. They’ve got a nasty bite, I’ve been told, a bit like a wasp sting, and they claim it is very poisonous, but then people say that about every snake in this place as well, which is not true, so I’ll take it with a grain of sand. Pretty animal though. This one’s got 37 legs though (17 segments).
And a praying mantis that looks like a flower


Elie Touma said...

Dear Sietske,

Another great article from you !!!

I loved the pictures of the centipede and the Praying Mantis.

I used to see a lot of Praying Mantis on the orange trees outside
my window in our old house in Hamra in Beirut long time ago.
It was fascinating how it blends with its surroundings.

Please keep posting your pictures giving us pleasure looking at them.

MurciaDailyPhoto said...

Beautiful photos, although centipede and mantis afraid me.
I take this opportunity to congratulate you for having this blog, after more than 11 years.

Anonymous said...

such beauty.. no wonder why Lebanon was once called the land of milk and honey.... there's something spiritual about it's geography.

Linda said...

Beautiful photos.

Sietske said...

Wow, thank you all. And yes, 11 years. I have to say I am kind of surprised I kept it up this long :)