Planting onions at J’s farm turned out to be happily uneventful: no Israeli army shots today! Instead, the main focus was on the proper technique for planting onions, which everyone and their donkey seemed to be an expert on.
We planted in J’s field, in full view and range of the border with Israel, one area where J is regularly subject to potshots from Israeli soldiers. Today, though, they had other things to do than to bother with a bunch of green thumbs.
There is always the very real worry, however, that the bulldozers will come another day and in a fell swoop destroy hours of labour and hope.
J is a resilient fellow, though. He takes it in stride, though most people would be crippled by it. He is a sage in many ways, including –if his radishes and chili peppers are any indication –in the art of planting onions.
Earlier, in the morning as I arrived, I’d walked past the swiss cheese wall and was finally able to ask a local what exactly the holes were from: gunshots or shelling. It was shrapnel, I was told, from some heaving shelling during an Israeli invasion.
As the work finished for the day, L. sat at the small fire outside the house, adding spices and herbs to a pasta being cooked over olive tree branches. Cooking gas goes for nearly 400 shekels ($100) a canister nowadays, if one can find a vendor, 8 times the price before the siege. L and J do their cooking over the fire, using wood from trees razed during Israel’s devasting invasion on May 1, 2008, when they lost over 300 dunums (~75 acres) of their crops and orchards, including 300 olive trees, to Israeli bulldozers. Everything tastes better over the fire, but the bitterness of losing their livelihoods taints the food and the memory.