There’s a stillness in the air in such days. I feel it. I think he feels it too. We’re both sitting on a patch of grass, right off the main road. There’s a small puddle right beside me with some geese in it. They bathe happily in the cold water, shaking off the dust gathered on their feathers.
I look at the sky. It’s so blue. Not a cloud in sight. Just a big, smiling, hot sun gazing upon me and my grandpa as we’re eating lunch off the main road.
He’s happy. I see that in his eyes and on his face. Even though he’s worried, even though he’s old. He smiles and he knows how to do it well. He doesn’t over-analyze life like I do. He just takes the smallest things and turns them into happy moments.
There are brownish insects crawling between the rocks, hiding underneath the chilly grass. The sun burns them. The leafs of the trees near us are yellowish and wrinkled. The air is heavy, moving slowly under a mild breeze.
We get up on our feet, finishing our lunch and cleaning our clothes with our bare hands. We need to go. We need to find someone to help us out with the harvest.
We go upwards, on a hill to the west. We climb and climb until we can see the whole city on the other side of it. Such a wonder. Being on top of the world, looking at life running it’s course between the blocks of clay and stone we built for ourselves.
We can even see our own house from where we are. My grandpa doesn’t see well, so I show him. I take his rough, heavy hand and point it in that direction. He looks, but he can’t distinguish it, not yet. Then, an enthusiastic “Aha” slips from his dry mouth and his eyes are flooded with joy and wander. We can actually see our house from over here!
The road is long until the next village and the afternoon sun still burns like an oven. So we make a stop at a nearby fountain. It looks ancient in my young eyes. Wooden pieces, put together with rusty nails and a metal frame. When it is set in motion, the whole thing screeches and moves left and right like it’s going to break any second now.
The bucket has reached the surface of the water with a splash. I take a look inside the fountain. Dark and cool, smelling of old herbs, stone and dirt. Only a shimmer of light cast upon the vital liquid reveals the full metal bucket going up as my hands relentlessly turn the wheels.
This water is so cold. How can it be? My forehead is full of sweat but inside there, inside that dark place in the ground, there is cold water. Running through the veins of the world. Feeding the trees and plants. I drink it all without a gasp, quenching my thirst. And so does grandpa.
Fountain water tastes differently depending on the spring it comes from. I can feel that clearly now. City water is different from the one in the first village we passed through, different than the one from the second and so on. The many flavors of nature, helping the needy.
As we went along the rocky, dusty road I observed the plants and bushes growing uncontrollably on the sides. Tough plants, filled with thorns, plants that sting, plants that stick to your clothes, that scar your skin and make you bleed. Plants that can survive the drought.
Because the earth is broken underneath our hot feet. There are cracks everywhere and dust scattered behind us as we push forward.
Somewhere in the distance you can hear a church bell ringing slowly, fading away, announcing the travelers that civilization is near.
We see the pile of dust and torn hay scattered in the air from afar. We hear the roar of the machine. We smell the gasoline it feeds upon and the smoke it flushes out as it gathers all the seeds. We finally found it.
My grandpa seals the deal with the driver: tomorrow morning, we’re next in line for the harvest. Mission complete.
The road back home is full of stories. Now that the sun is finally giving in, setting slowly and leaving it’s red marks on the sky, life crawls back to the surface from all the crevasses and shaded corners.
Goats flood the road agitated, trying to go back to their stables, cows eat peacefully as we pass by, waving their ears and tales to chase away pesky flies bothering them. There are fresh bumps in the ground, probably done by moles and chickens run left and right avoiding them, chased by little children.
The entrance back in the city is guarded by the Jewish cemetery. Big fences made of stone, with symbols and inscriptions on them, reminding the wanderer that is a sacred place. From now on, we walk on cement. The joys of the city.
But the people we meet and greet in the outskirts have their hearts still out there. Thrown in the puddles formed beside the main road, playing with the butterflies and catching grasshoppers. The comfort they have here will never fill their need for the sun. For the fields. For the harvest.
I know that my grandma will be expecting us with supper, happy that we’re back safe, bickering about why it took so long for us to get back home. And that fills my heart with joy.
This may seem like nothing. Just a simple summer day in the lives of a simple grandpa and his nephew. But magic lays in simple things. And that’s why for me this is all an enchanted adventure. Out in the wild. My summer escapade.