Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Botanical Gardens...

Hubby surprised us all last night by showing up at the door at 1:30 am. A day earlier than I expected. I was worried. What is he going to do for 5 days until he goes back to Haifa on Monday.

Will he be bored?

Will he be restless?

Will he be aggravating?

Will my family be tormented by Fox News on the television 24 hours a day?

I shouldn't be so hard on the guy. I made him coffee this morning because he offered to drive me to work, even though he really didn't need to go into town. My chauffeur extraordinaire.

Getting back to my life's work though....on Monday, our interfaith group went to the Botanical Gardens at Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus. The whole planning of this outing was a bit of a pain since I had to gather everyone's ID's and fax them in to the security offices on campus. Security has been very tight since a terrorist attack at the campus cafeteria a few years ago. A day later they approved my list of 8 people and we were set.

The garden is a hidden gem in Jerusalem. It's so hidden that my seasoned cab driver said he had no idea there was a botanical gardens there. It was the first one built in the 1920s and it isn't vast but it is very charming. Our guide works there and told me beforehand that she probably wouldn't give us a guided tour because it was 1 1/2 hours after her day ends. But she surprised me and met us at the entrance.

All the plants and flowers are indigenous to the land. There are no imports here, she explained. We strolled through the paths and ate our way through the herbs and odd plants from the Negev.

"You WILL tell us if something's poisonous, won't you?" I asked.

She opened up a red fruit-like thing I've never seen before. It looked like a red egg. We ate the seeds inside, hoping we were not going to hallucinate from these strange things. But we let her lead the way, picking the stuff for us to munch on. A botanical gardens herbal feast.

She stood before certain trees and bushes and told us stories about them - one in particular, monks believed that a certain plant was the rod that Moses had turned into a snake. We stopped in front of Nicanor's tomb - another little-known treasure in the gardens. She told us the following story of this rich man buried here, where archeologists found his name on his crypt, which is now in the British Museum.

When Nicanor had gone to Alexandria, and was returning with the gates for the Temple in Jerusalem, the waves of the sea threatened to drown him; they took one of the gates from the ship it was on and cast it into the sea. The sea was not appeased. They desired to cast the second gate overboard also. He took it on his body, and said: "Fling me together with it." Thereupon the sea became quiet. He grieved for the other gate. When he came to the coast at Accho, the gate appeared at the shore. According to others, some beast of the sea had swallowed the gate, and afterward spit it out. Therefore all gates of the Temple were gilt, except Nicanor's, because miracles had happened to them, and they were therefore left as they were. R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: It was polished bronze, and glittered like gold.

We finished off our meeting with tea from herbs from the gardens and foccacia (I explained to the Arabs in our group that it's Italian pita), and stayed until nightfall, and the place seemed enchanted...

1 comment:

atli092 said...

An insightful post on botanical gardens.

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Karim - Home herb garden