My husband and I were just beginning to unwind. While vacation can mean getting away from it all, we have travelled enough to realize that family vacations mean that “the all” follows you into the car, frequently and audibly expresses opinions on what constitutes fun, and wakes up at decidedly un-vacation-like hours in the morning.
However, we arrived at our destination fairly whole and succeeded in unpacking most of the car’s contents, pausing to take in the surroundings. There sprawled before us were great stretches of grass, dotted by oak trees – remainders of what historians say was left behind after Roman troops denuded northern Israel of its plentiful Great Oaks in long ago military campaigns.
The kids were off exploring and we scouted the area for a suitable campsite. Only in the late afternoon did we realize that we had a problem. The boys wanted to take out more equipment from the car, but the car key was not where it was supposed to be. We fanned out and combed the entire park area – and still no key. After a second more scrupulous search, I started envisioning what permanent residence in the Golan might be like. Then came the more realistic but dismal thought of hiring van to take us back home, the expense of redoing the key, if that was possible, and somehow retrieving the car one day. As more time passed, we became discouraged, feeling that important vacation time was being consumed in a futile pursuit. We had covered multiple times all the areas that anyone had been to that day.
“I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, my husband said suddenly, “but there’s a pasuk to say as a segula for finding a lost object.” We listened with renewed hope as my husband uttered the pasuk. We all set out for another look seemingly retracing our previous steps. In a matter of minutes, my husband called out, “Got it!”
Another camping trip – often the only affordable way to get away from it all with “the all.” This time our temporary abode was the Kinneret shoreline. We were taking advantage of the last rays of sunlight before breaking for Mincha. The girls and I were setting the picnic table and the boys were tossing a Frisbee around with their father. My husband walked toward our makeshift outdoor kitchen wearing a concerned look. “One of my contact lenses fell out somewhere in the sand.” We began an immediate search in the quickly waning light. A lens in the sand is about as close to the proverbial needle in a haystack as one can get. We crisscrossed the zone where we guessed the lens had fallen. When that failed, we took baby steps scrutinizing any form which didn’t seem part of the earth though dusk was fast approaching. In close lines we tread back and forth, widening our search perimeter hopelessly.
“What was that passage again that helped us on that last camping trip?” Now it was our memory that we were searching. As soon as my husband concluded what he thought was a close approximation of the sought-after passage his eyes fell upon the tiny outline of the transparent disc that was his lens lying in the grainy sand. How grateful we all were that the soothing scenery that we had come so far to take in would not remain a visual blur for Abba for the rest of the trip.
Snow in Jerusalem! For many New Englanders like me, snow pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings like nothing else can. I’m as excited as my kids at the first appearance of the whirling white stuff and am known to become giddy if it piles up on the ground (I’ve heard the same from other former northerners and am therefore not embarrassed to admit this). Usually, a panoply of images flit by: hot chocolate (with marshmallows), thoughtfully prepared for by Mom, snow pants, sledding, skiing and rustic ski lodges, evergreen branches weighted down by fluffy white blankets.