A couple of days ago the sky blocked the sun, transforming it into a faint white disk hanging weakly above the hills. The air was caramel-colored and the wind whipped around our yard, knocking over lawn chairs, children... anything unanchored, basically.
Our dog Sussi had enough sense to lay low, only her nose raised, eyes squinting with cautious curiosity.
"It's a summer wind," my ten year old explained, shouting above the roar of the dry gale. The boy from across the street nodded agreement with my 7 and 8 year olds following suit. "It means that this is the first day of summer," he added.
I have always thought of dust storms as transitory events that happen only in the Midwestern Plains in the U.S. An hour or two, no more -- but not here in the vortex of the universe.
Like everything else in Israel, this storm was more intense, lasted longer and felt like an ancient memory welling up from my soul, one that reminding me of the trek from Egypt to the thunder of the Ten Commandments.
The storm lasted all day long and into the night, covering leaves and flowers with a dusty, flour-like coat. Greenhorn that I am, I found it fascinating, its cool wind outweighing the bother of the sand. So like a fool I left my bedroom windows open, all of them, screens rattling, storm howling and the dog silent in the face of its fury. I fell asleep to its music, in fact -- only to awaken an hour later because it was difficult to breathe.
Belatedly I remembered Zarifi, my Bedouin sister, closing the metal shutters regardless of the temperature outside when the dust storms raged through the village. Too warm inside? Live with it, baby. The alternative was my current ability to breathe freely as she well knew, not to mention the film now gracing the walls, floor and furniture in our house.
I tend to learn the hard way and it sometimes takes a while till the lesson sinks in.
My husband, on the other hand, is smarter. He got up and closed the windows.