Mornings are much different here, in Jerusalem, than the mornings Marcia and I remember while living in the States. Birds, for example, that look for all the world like pigeons—perhaps more like pigeons who, in their past, once consorted with mutant doves—begin calling out at daybreak from their perches, always annoyingly close to a window, repeating a loud, monotonous phrase that sounds much like the Hebrew words for pharmacy.
“Beit merkachat!” (בֵּית מִרקַחַת, “house of confection”) they seem to chant.
It’s a low-pitched, mildly disturbing, otherworldly sound to American ears trained on the songs of sparrows, robins and thrushes, yet it’s only one of the countless odd noises, scents and other sensory affronts one encounters daily here in Asia Minor.
Then, there are the jets.
Not every morning, but often enough to keep Jerusalemites keenly aware that they live in an exceptional place, one routinely hears, especially early mornings, low flying, window-rattling Israeli jets streaking overhead, almost always out of sight, heading…where? The distance from Metula, the northernmost town in Israel, to the port city of Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, is 260 miles. At top speed an Israeli Air Force F35 stealth jet can traverse the country north to south in under 15 minutes, less time than it takes to persuade the average Israeli shopkeeper to notice you’ve entered his store.[Read more…]