February 16 was National Almond Day, or so the American calendars tell me.
And indeed when I rode the train up to Jerusalem yesterday the almond trees were blooming like crazy!
Must be the rare winter heat wave Israel is having this week, with temperatures in the mid 80s (30 C).
On both sides of the train, in this small section, is the famous terraced agriculture of the Arab village Battir inscribed in 2014 as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wikipedia tells the curious history like this:
In the 20th century, Battir's development was linked to its location alongside the railroad to Jerusalem, which provided access to the marketplace as well as income from passengers who disembarked to refresh themselves en route. During the 1948 war, most of the villagers had fled, but Mustafa Hassan and a few others stayed. At night they would light candles in the houses, and in the morning they would take out the cattle. When nearing the village, the Israelis thought Battir was still inhabited and gave up attacking. The armistice line was drawn near the railroad, with Battir ending up just meters to the east of Jordan's border with Israel. At least 30% of Battir's land lies on the Israeli side of the Green Line, but the villagers were allowed to keep it in return for preventing damage to the railway, thus being the only Palestinians officially allowed to cross into Israel and work their lands before the Six-Day War.
One almond tree among many olive trees.
This was the sunny view at 8:55 in the morning.
(You can enlarge the photos for a closer view, don't forget.)
The same spot but at 4:30 pm, on my way back, when most of the valley of Nahal Soreq was in the shadow of the mountains.
It is a fabulous train journey, meandering partly through a steep canyon with Soreq River running at the bottom, parallel to the railroad tracks!
I'll show you more of that part soon, inshallah.
(For ABC Wednesday F is for fabulous.)