Sometimes it feels like that’s all there is left. Two old warrior’s we felt ourselves to be, at the kitchen table this morning, my painter and I. Both about the same age. In his youth he’d been a UN blue beret – attached to the UN through the Finnish army. In my youth, with my beret green, I’d been in exactly the same area, with the French military, Lebanon, Syria, Israel. We’d perhaps even been only yards apart at times.
And both of us knew that rare thing. We both knew and felt the lies so often told about the Middle East by our western governments and press, this ex-UN soldier, attached with his Finnish regiment, and I. He’d witnessed a Norwegian UN soldier, a woman, beaten up by Israelis when she had a flat tyre and was trying to flag a car down for help, though it was true she was in uniform and Israelis revile the UN – but her thumb up gesture was also a dire insult in Israel. I’d heard about it. We both saw or heard about many incidents.
We drunk our coffee, and we knew the lies.
“But still the dates grew in the trees, all year round,” he said, “and the olives too, until those crazy extremist Jewish settlers burnt all the olive groves.”
“That was, and still is terrible,” I said, “and never talked about.”
The cold crept in trough the open kitchen window. I shivered.
“When I was a child, all our winters were cold, full of snow,” he said, looking out the window with me, at the trees just starting to bud. “This year winter did not come properly but still the cold lingers.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Maybe that is how it is now,” he said, “never really starting, or ever finished.”
flowering spring won’t be today
I miss absent palm trees