February 22, 2007
I make Aviva and the girls laugh these days, by coming out with very typical, local expletives and phrases. Right now, the correct one is “Nim assli” – “I’ve had it up to here”.
That’s why I’ve been so silent these weeks. I’m fed up with Israeli politics and scandals, with the twisting media, here and there – and my current favourite: actions in response to the fear of reaction.
When the Moslem authorities in charge of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem excavated hundreds of tons of land to construct an underground mosque, Israeli antiquity experts were relegated to ‘scavenging’ the sites where the rubble has been dumped – and found countless artefacts, most of them now damaged.
Almost 4 years ago, the ramp access to the Moslem area was badly damaged in storms – and by an earthquake. A temporary ramp was erected, and now there are plans to build a new one. To support it, further pylons (up to a max. of 8) must be driven into what is considered one of the most exciting – and explosive – archaeological plots of ground in the World.
The Israelis have proved themselves to be among the great archaeological peoples. For there to be concern at the consequences of this current dig is one thing. To have the current outcry is quite obviously nothing to do with the dig itself, but the trend of screaming at every action – by anyone – that may rock any boat that may be in waters that may touch the Islamic World. I give up.
Condoleezza’s trying to get the protagonists together again. Can’t fault her for trying. And one should never stop talking, whoever the partner and whatever the chances of success. But you would think that, if nothing else has worked in the 58 years or so since State of Israel was declared, plus the 50 years of fighting before that, perhaps starting to accept the status quo might be a good idea. If the UN decreed it in 1947, and UN resolutions appear to be so important, then how about going back to square one and ‘starting again’? What a good idea!!
I’m attaching pictures of agavas. The first (‘Magnus’) shows Magnus when he was medium-sized – up on our roof. He was a sun agava, a type of cactus that we inherited back when we moved in to our current roof apartment, a few months before the 1st Gulf War. I do NOT have green fingers. I sweep, cut and spray, and watch the plants live – and die. But Magnus and his clan thrive under my guiding hand.
He starts off as a baby growing on the root/stem of the papa. Bigger and bigger, with a large central stem and a the long, green leaves/petals (whatever they are called). They slowly separate from the central stem and flare out, perhaps one every 2 weeks. Each one opens at a different angle, so that Nature ensures they eventually form a perfect circle. Once fully grown, which takes perhaps 5 years, the agava can be perhaps 1.50m across.
Look at the 2nd picture (‘026’), showing a bunch of them. It takes about 15-18 months for one to open up and eventually end up at the back. It then withers away, dries up and falls off. You can tell when it has rained heavily, for the leaf is stippled with pockmarks.
When Magnus was about 10, by which time he had quite a large family, some of which had found new homes, the central stem did something very strange.
Instead of yet another leaf veering away from the centre, a powerful new stem sprouted forth, covered with hundreds of tiny yellow blossoms. It grew upwards and ever-longer. At any one time, about 30cm of these tiny blossoms bloomed; at the top they bloomed, at the bottom, they died. And the stem just got longer. Up and up it went – to a height of over 2 meters – then gravity took over, and it turned Earthwards. By now, it had been open about 4 weeks, extending a couple of cm. each day.
When it reached down to perhaps 50cm. height, with those tiny yellow blossoms ever-flourishing, it turned up again. We guesstimate that it was at least 4m long by the time it gave up the spirit, stopped growing, and started turning brown. It remained sturdy for some time, but now was becoming ugly, shrivelled. This was not how it wanted to be seen. After taking some ‘professional advice’, I did the honourable thing: chopped it off.
That was 7-8 years ago. Regret not having a digital camera at the time. But Magnus’s descendants are thriving. There are 2 large children, 1 grandchild that is even larger than Magnus ever was, many more grandchildren, and countless great-grandkids. They’re everywhere. And when one of them decides to start it’s glorious path to eternity, I shall be there, camera in one hand, and the merciful axe in the other.