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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Coming out of a fog

I can’t help but smile when I hear people back in the 'states complaining about their morning commute. I smile because I love my commute!

Every morning after the kids have had their breakfast, I collect my good-bye kisses and head out to the car. Yes, I am a typical car-obsessed, XY-chromosomed, Neanderthal. Having survived my mid-life crisis (Jeep Wrangler Sahara and all), I am now quite comfortable in our sexy European family wagon. The interior has all the necessary appointments, such as comfortable seating (for 7) and a really lush stereo. In addition it has a moon roof that extends almost all the way to the back of the car.

My trip to work is just over an hour. I start out from our mountaintop community, south of Jerusalem, and spend 20 minutes heading down a long winding road. I have my choice of routes, but the one I usually take wends down through a beautiful coniferous forest, towards a fertile valley floor. But wait (as they say on those infomercials) there’s more! On many mornings, the mountain roads are covered with fog. Not the kind of wispy ground-fog you may have seen in New England or upstate New York. Even the San Francisco variety is insubstantial beside our local fog. Anyone who has ever looked out the window of an airliner as it plunges into one of those big fluffy, cotton candy, cumuli-nimbus clouds has some idea what I’m talking about. One of the reasons that the vineyards on these rocky slopes do so well is that each morning the fog rolls in and deposits its moisture on the leaves and vines.

I’ll admit that until I learned the nuances of the windy roads, the drive through the fog was a bit of a white-knuckle adventure. Forget seeing cars ahead or behind…one sometimes can’t see the road directly in front of the car!

However, when I finally break out of the fog just above the valley floor, and see the sun shining on the road ahead, the greens of the crops and browns of the soil make it seem as though I’ve never really seen those colors before. A 15 minute drive through the valley takes me past fields filled with ripening produce, grazing cattle, and fragrant farm buildings.

Once I reach the town of Kiryat Gat, I turn left and race alongside the 8:00 commuter train due south into the Negev Desert towards my destination; Be’er Sheva.

The transition to desert is very gradual because so many of the communities in the northern Negev have successfully reclaimed the soil, and are bringing in crops where once there were only sand dunes! But, eventually the desert does take hold...As far as the eye can see, there are rolling hills and dunes, and the Bedouin shepherds wander from place-to-place with their goats and sheep in the search of new places for their flocks to graze. Ancient walls surround the occasional well and feral camels wander along the side of the road.

To go from Mountain, to farmland, to Desert anywhere else in the world would normally take days or weeks. I get to experience this panorama every morning during the course of an hour!

Looking back on my daily commute from Connecticut into Manhattan, I now realize that I was in a different sort of fog. I used to leave my house and arrive at work without truly being awake. It’s not that I was asleep (ok, there were mornings that I snored my way through my train ride) – rather, I just didn’t notice or care for the passing scenery.

I know what you’re thinking…that in time I will become immune to the charms of my commute. Somehow, I doubt it. Not to sound sappy (yeah, I know…that ship sailed awhile back) but I have much more of a connection to what I see out of my car windows these days. I may eventually become cynical about politics, bureaucracy, or the other drivers who 'share' the road (more about each of these in future posts), but if you could join me for just a portion of my drive each morning…especially as I break out of the fog…I think you would have to agree that this is one pleasure that will stand the test of time.

Posted by David Bogner on January 8, 2004 | Permalink

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Dear David,
Somehow you managed to put into words my own thoughts and feelings while riding the roads in Israel. You should publish your writings... seiourly!
Thanks for giving us a glimps of your experiences. It's refreshing.
Hope all is well and hope to see you guys sometime soon,
HAGD and SHSH,
Miriam

Posted by: Miriam Ehrman | Jan 9, 2004 5:36:46 PM

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