Waterfalls and abundant flowers attract election-weary Israelis to Golan Heights
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Waterfalls and abundant flowers attract election-weary Israelis to Golan Heights

As spring draws to a close, the Sa’ar River is still gushing, thanks to a rainy winter and snowmelt from Mount Hermon

The Sa'ar River on the Golan Heights, April 3, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
The Sa'ar River on the Golan Heights, April 3, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

After weeks of squinting at screens — to keep up to date with Israel’s election campaign — and gazing up at the sky, following the path to the moon of the Beresheet spacecraft, it’s time to look down, if you haven’t already done so, at Mother Earth.

Because during this last gasp of spring, you can see her still strutting her stuff, particularly in the north of the country, producing riots of floral color that will be gone in a matter of weeks when temperatures rise.

On the Golan Heights, the Sa’ar River is fuller than it has been for years, thanks to abundant winter rains after a long period of drought and to snowmelt from Mount Hermon.

Here, the waterfalls are still gushing and the riverbanks are carpeted in the blue-mauves of purple viper’s bugloss and hyacinth squill, the lime greens of wild euphorbia, white and yellow daisies, and, higher up, the vivid reds of anemones and poppies.

Silvery poplars compete with the dark greens of riverside oleanders. The young leaves of oaks are still bright green, those of the pistachios a temporary, UV-protective red.

This is God’s own garden, painted with a palette that knows no rules, absorbed in a last burst of fecundity before the annual dance between nectar-filled flowers and their insect, pollen-carrying messengers draws to a close.

Over the weekend, it felt as if half of Israel had arrived to marvel at the Sa’ar’s bounty — to photograph the plunging water (and particularly themselves) on the bridge at the start of the nature trail, and to walk along the rocky two to two-and a half hour trail itself.

After a bruising and divisive election campaign, it was restorative to see so many Arabs and Jews, not to mention Druze (carrying handfuls of wild asparagus picked along the way) enjoying nature, picnics and paddling.

Youth swimming in a quiet part of the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 14, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
A Druze woman relaxing under the shade of an oak tree near the Druze village of Ein Kinya at one end of the Sa’ar river trail, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
A barbeque by the banks of the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
The russet colors of young pistachio leaves by the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Waterfall at the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (SueSurkes/Times of Israel)
A bright red anemone, whose black center dupes pollinating beetles into thinking ‘there’s a beetle inside, it must be worth visiting!’ Photographed at the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
The arum, which looks and smells like rotting meat to attract fly pollinators, on the banks of the Sa’ar river on the Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Wild euphorbia on the banks of the Sa’ar river on the Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Wild garlic on the banks of the Sa’ar river on the Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Purple Viper’s Bugloss on the banks of the Sa’ar River on the Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel.)
Wild oats and barley on the banks of the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
The Hyacinth Squill, with the remains of the Crusader-era Nimrod Fortress visible on the horizon, Golan Heights, April 13. 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel).
Daisies on the banks of the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Israelis paddling in the cool waters of the Sa’ar river, Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Crowds on the bridge over the Sa’ar river, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
One of waterfalls of the Sa’ar river on the Golan Heights, April 3, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Anemones, poppies and daisies on the upper banks of the Sa’ar river on the Golan Heights, April 13, 2019. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
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