The tapering end of a mountain range is visible from my office window. It isn’t a big range like the Rockies or the Alps, but it’s our range, so I suppose that’s worth something. For some reason, gazing out at it this morning prompted me to think about another mountain range I used to know. Many years ago, I spent some time working on a kibbutz in northern Israel. The kibbutz was several miles south of the Lebanese border and just below the Golan Heights in the east. I’m hazy on the name of the range, but I think it is called Lubnan ash Sharqi. My job required getting up at 4 am. The mountains, at that time in the morning, were dark, brooding masses of shadow, their edges defined by the lighter expanse of the starry night. On a few occasions, the morning silence would be instantly and savagely broken by planes flying low overhead and heading north. Minutes later, the rumble of bombing shuddered in the air from far away, echoing back from the Beka Valley just north of the mountains. And, then, almost as soon after, the planes would return. They flew high this time, relieved of the weight of secrecy and their bombs.
Despite that, the north of Israel is a lovely place. It reminds me of northern California in a lot of ways, green and well-watered, with quick changes in topography and the sea a close and ever-present reassurance of how small and mortal we humans are. Most people do want to live in peace, but peace can be a costly thing.