“You see”, she says, holding the metal fence, “where our house stood after the war. I remember in the front I had a garden… What is a garden, maybe even just a meter by meter. But I loved it so much. Mom would give me a few pennies and I remember going to the market and buying flower seeds from the peasants. My little garden was so beautiful and if someone had picked even one flower I would immediately burst into tears”. That’s how my mother describes the little garden that swept through the whole world of a girl in postwar Romania, a corner of beauty and quiet. Just hers. That was endlessly nurturing and nurturing. This is probably what motivated her to recruit all the neighbors in the housing we lived in after we left the kibbutz, weed out the wild, plant shrubs and flowers and lawn. And turn the arid slope in front of the house into a flowering garden. And so to this day, the garden is her happiness, her refuge. Even though there isn’t a single leaf that doesn’t go in the right direction. And where she sits down to smoke her daily cigarette (she claims to have one a day but who counts).
Dad, for his part, moved from the village in Romania to what he called the “Kolhoz” in the Beit She’an Valley, near the “world capital”, the little town of Afula. He found his personal corner in the fields of the valley and throughout the Negev. Mounted on a tractor or combine, a reindeer fawn is discovered inside the harvested wheat. When they wanted himto go to study teaching at Ruppin, he found an excuse not to give up his great love of spaces and said it was suitable for those who could not go out into the field and work… The look he had in his eyes accompanies me every step of the way. Planted somewhere in the imaginary spaces, sailing far and wide. Going out to the fields to sell agricultural equipment was his finest hour. Sometimes I slipped out of school to accompany him, to study each line and plant, what each germ would look like and when each field would be harvested. The last time I drove him into a wheat field in late spring, he took a look of an experienced farmer and said, “In two weeks, we have to harvest…”
Among the books, a yellowing brochure with the name “Ehud” on it. An older brother I didn’t know. How he loved nature, and was excited on trips withh the kids company and all that was going on in it. How he discovered the precursors of autumn rain, and dug into his fingernails to discover the onions and tubers they feed on. How he told everyone about the Sabbath trips with father and mother, jubilation towards each bird and every caterpillar, and knew how to give each one a name. What he read in the stars on the night walks, all enthusiastic. And even in the last photograph, Tu Bishvat, he plants a tree with the family, in a grove that will grow to glory near the brackish water canal.
This love of nature and spaces. I seems to be running in the family. Even our youngest son was called a “jungke child” among the horse farm workers where he would ride and take care of the horses almost daily. His guide on the farm told us that he was amazing at his knowledge of plants and birds. When she asked him where all this knowledge was from, he told her that he had received it from his uncle, Ehud. When he was young, he would occasionally accompany me on field runs on bicycles. And when he started running himself we found ourselves going out on a Saturday night for an overnight run between the hills and streams in the area. I have no doubt that this connection to nature and spaces plays a big part in my love of long races on the ground.
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