February 12, 2017

Slow February

Early Sunday Morning Hikes

It is February. I was supposed to go skiing this weekend but the weather wasn’t great and I got lazy. Instead, I ended up in another part of the mountains above, without snow. And over there, I hike at 6:30 AM.  There’s all kinds of research out there that proves hiking makes you happier. Besides, it is supposed to enhance your problem-solving skills by 50% , and increase your creative output by about 60% . I never had much trouble with solving problems, although I am a little low on creative output these days, granted. February is a slow month.

Someone left a heart in a tree

I remember at my parents’ house, after (or before) big dinners with guests, we would go for a walk. This winter, while preparing for a Christmas dinner, I went for a walk around the village with some friends, and we met quite a few families that were walking. From the grouping, you could see that these were families that were together for the Christmas dinner (grown-up children with partners in general do not live with their parents in Holland), so this seems to be a typical Dutch thing. Lebanese do not seem to hike for fun, unless it is on the Corniche. Or sometimes in organized group on Sundays.  Either way, we hardly ever meet anyone while hiking. It may be the early hour. What idiot goes hiking on a Sunday morning, at 6:30 AM?

catkins (a sign of spring)
Here in the mountains we walk our dogs. And we walk because it is beautiful here. There is this little secluded valley-like forest that you can walk through and around, and there are no roads, so no cars, and no noise All you hear is the sound of running water, (always reminds me of Narnia) and crows. The screeching of hawks, if you’re lucky. Or buzzards, whatever you call them. There are some houses around this little valley, but most belong to Arabs (apparently we, the Lebanese, do not qualify as Arabs. When we talk ‘Arabs’, we mean the people living in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia), and they have not been around a lot. They got their first scare in 2006 (Israeli bombardments) and then the war in Syria (2011) did it for them; no more Lebanon. Their houses stand empty, their gardens maintained by janitors from Syria.
A friend of mine does business with ‘Arabs’, and she maintains that they will all show up this summer. I hope not. I know it is better for business, but I like the quiet of the area.

And although winter lasts officially for another two months, somehow it seems like spring has started here already. The catkins (elzekatjes in Dutch), the male flowers of the alder trees, are blooming, and I ran into an early Iris historia.  Now don’t think I am like a train spotter, going out into the woods with this extensive flora knowledge; I have to take pictures and Google extensively for color identification.
With a recent storm, the parasol pines have dropped their cones. I used to pick up all pine cones, but now I only pick up the closed one; they still have their seeds, which we add to dishes here.
Not much else to tell. As I said, February is slow.

Probably another reason why not many people hike here: Beware of mines. It is an old sign though

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