Welcome, Winter

The storm has begun.  Rain dashes against the window in a noisy barrage.  The wind blows, whistling, howling, rattling the windows.  Israel’s rainy season is here.

Some of us shy away from the outdoors during this harsh season.  The common perception is that winter is the time for indoor comforts: fire, candlelight, cozy sweaters, and thick blankets. This is true.  But these cozy factors are best enjoyed after some time spent outdoors.

Others feel that winter is an interminable beast: full of dark, grey, depressing days.  They fear winter and flee from it, whether by flying to a sunnier place or just wishing for the season to end.  But winter in Israel isn’t something to be afraid of.

Rather, it’s one of the most wonderful times of year.

When I hear that first storm blow in, I smile inside.  I think of rainy-day hikes to a cave.  In my mind, I feel the wind and rain blowing in my face as I climb into them.  I dream of stopping to huddle under a tree and discovering a world of wet moss and miniature blossoms underneath.

Most of all, I remember that soon, Israel’s parched landscape will turn green and glorious once again.  Thick grass will grow over golden plains.  Dust will be washed from the trees.  Hills and mountains in the Gilboa and the Galilee will be transformed.

That first rain brings me back to times of discovering and gathering: asparagus aplenty, popping up from the sides of the trail.  Clusters of flowers in shades of pink, yellow, and red.  Giant mushrooms under pine trees. Those harsh winter rains make all of these things possible. 

I think of staying cool under a cloudy sky on desert hikes, of discovering desert pools full of clear water.  I remember streams and rivers that formed in previous years as if out of nowhere, running through stone canyons and attracting wildlife. 

The rainy season in Israel isn’t foreboding and gloomy. It’s rich.  It brings life. 

In Israel, winter generously gives a gift that the Land has been waiting for: water.  This revitalizing substance restores the earth to its former beauty: a world of colorful flowers, green ground cover, and flowing streams and waterfalls.

This winter, don’t be afraid.  Welcome the rainy season with open arms. Go outdoors to greet it.  I guarantee that if you do this (armed with waterproof hiking boots and a rain jacket, of course), you’ll see scenery more beautiful than you ever thought possible in this Holy Land.

And when you’re done, you can go inside and snuggle up by the heater.

winter in ISrael
February in Israel.

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