Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Forecast for tonight: dark

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.  ~John Ruskin

What with all that there is to talk about in Israel – terrorism, politics, army, ice cream, the latest basketball game – weather usually isn’t brought up.
The truth is there isn’t much to talk about. There are two seasons here – hot and not quite as hot. In this sense, it’s a lot like my hometown, but in reverse. However, while Winnipeg is reputed to be the coldest city of its size in the world, Beer Sheva comes nowhere near the record as being the hottest city. It’s way hotter in Eilat, where we’re going for our summer vacation.
When we tell people we’re going to Eilat in August, they automatically begin sweating. Which is funny, because the heat in Eilat is dry, you don’t sweat that much; just the soles of your feet burn when you walk on the sand at the beach.
One good thing about Israel’s summers is that you never have to worry about what to wear the next day. Will it rain? Should you take a sweater? Chance it and wear short sleeves? Not an issue here. It’s going to be hot with no rain for about six months. Just about guaranteed. Unless a freak storm hits. It poured down on the Negev town of Yerucham for about 10 minutes a couple of weeks ago, causing my son – who was a student there – to become so excited, he forgot to get in out of the rain.
Seriously, during an Israeli summer, you can plan any event outdoors, and know you’re safe – against rain anyways, ants are a different matter. Most places here are even downright pleasant in the late afternoons and evenings, when the wind blows a bit, and the sun isn’t quite as fierce. Unfortunately, Eilat isn’t one of those places.

Another good thing about it being so hot in the summer is that it makes you appreciate the winter so much more.

It’s like everyone just can’t wait till it’s winter. As soon as the calendar says November, all the winter clothes come out. So what if it’s 30°C (86°F)? Out come the boots, the sweaters, and even the heavy jackets. When my kids were small, they would be the only one in kindergarten who would not have a scarf and mittens on November 2.
One memorable year, I came back from a visit to Winnipeg in the middle of November. When I left there it was about -20° (-4°F). Winter hadn’t quite begun yet. Here, in Beer Sheva it was +18°C (64°F), and the people here were wearing exactly the same clothes as the people in Winnipeg. No kidding, people had on knee-high boots, hats, and scarves. Scarves for heaven sake. And everyone was saying ‘Eizeh korrrrrrr (It’s soooooo cooooold). I wanted to scream and shout and tell them they don’t know what cold is!! But then I remembered family coming to Israel from colder climes in the spring and complaining how hot it is when it was only 27° (80°F). Everything is relative.
I’ve tried very hard not to give in to this Israeli exaggeration of cold weather, wearing sandals till my feet turn blue. Sometimes, though, this backfires. There was one day last year when it really was cold. It was about 8°C (46° F) (Ok, not Winnipeg cold, but Beer Sheva cold). And there was a sharp wind blowing. I had to take my son out and told him to put on a jacket. We went, and as we walked from the parked car the two blocks to our destination, I noticed my son shivering and wrapping his thin sweater around his short sleeve shirt.
“I told you it was cold,” I said to him, “You didn’t believe me.”
“Oh, I believed you,” he answered, “I just forgot what cold was”.

Yes, it gets rather warm here, but there is something about the beautiful flowers that grow all year, the aquamarine of the seas, and the clear blue blue sky that reminds us that even when we grumble about the weather, really, nobody needs do anything about it.

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