A lust for birdsongs drew me to the park. Walking down a small street parallel to the Shifa taxi street, I’d heard that rare sound: birds chirping. Usually the sounds are muffled by the noise of daily life: horns honking, generators making up for power outages, vendors’ calls, music from passing weddings…
But on that relatively lush back street –with towering trees (they seem towering when compared with the dwarf trees in the Israeli-razed border areas, or the decorative but short trees amidst the concrete of the city) –the birdsongs rang out loudly.
I realized I was hungry, thirsty, desperate to hear and be surrounded by nature. There are few spots in Gaza City where one can find some tranquility (other areas, especially the east of Khan Younis, where I’ve spent many a morning and night, can be especially tranquil… when there’s no Israeli soldier shooting). Lack of tranquility… the product of squashing 1.5 million people into 365 square km (minus the Israeli-imposed ‘buffer zone’ restrictions along the border, which eat approximately 80 square km, or 30% of Gaza’s best agricultural land).
In Gaza City, if one yearns for trees and flowers, one can go to the Jundi park –but its by no means tranquil, pulsing with life: tea vendors, families, friends, kids, rallies… One can go also to the gardens closer to Sahaa, eastern Gaza City. There are nice shrubs and flowers, but its still not overly tranquil, nor filled with bird calls.
I found a small park in my area, a UN park, and gave it a try.
Some bird calls, not so much traffic (though the sound of a saw somewhere is cutting through the light peace). There are tall, leafy trees of different sorts: various palms, a relative of a pine, a tall fern-leafed tree, some small shrubbery.
The wind in the leaves is always soothing. And, yes, there are more bird twitters now.
But dammit, the drone buzzing overhead is ruining it all.