Saturday, March 02, 2013

Meandering Around the Countryside

Yesterday we drove along the country roads from Mafraq to Ajloun, taking Tayta to meet up with her friends for the annual youth retreat. It was a beautiful Spring-is-Just-Around-the-Corner day, so we decided to make a long afternoon of the trip, meandering at a relaxed pace to Ajloun and back, enjoying the exquisite beauty of early spring in northern Jordan.

The most notable sign of spring, besides the green hills, were the hundreds of almond trees that are at the peak of bloom, mixed in with the evergreen olive trees and the still winter-naked fig trees.

Almond~Amygdalus communis

The trees were thick with white and pinkish blossoms. Soon, produce stands and street vendors will be selling green almonds, a favorite spring treat in Jordan, but one of those acquired tastes I have yet to acquire.

The country roads we followed took us through a number of villages. I see many scenes that I'd like to photograph, but usually Dear Husband or I decide it wouldn't be appropriate. This door was on the edge a village and no people were around, so I took my chance. Dear Husband commented that the Google camera glasses might come in handy for photography in such situations in the future. Yes!

As we drove toward the old decapolis city of Jerash, we enjoyed more green hills and meadows bright yellow from the bloom of wild mustard. I spotted this lovely specimen of borage along the side of the road.

Alkanna strigosa

From Jerash we headed further north to Ajloun, to drop Tayta off at her youth retreat. When we arrived, the band was setting up and we had a nice chat with Layla, a retired Jordanian nurse who has run the conference center for years. Both Dear Husband and I felt a bit wistful as we left; we have wonderful memories of the years we helped with the youth group and youth retreats in Ajloun were highlights of those years. 

We purposed to take the long road home, in search of some more creation beauty, so when Dear Husband noticed a side road heading up to the tip-top of a hill, he decided to take it. We entered a lovely old oak forest, the kind where the oaks grow in more limestone than soil, weathered, sturdy, fixed.

There must be a dozen metaphors bound up in the roots of this old oak:

My imagination was captured by the beauty of the limestone bedrock.

Art quilt inspiration?

"...even the rocks will cry out..." Luke 19

Nestled  amongst the oaks, limestone, mosses, and ferns, was one beautiful species of wildflower, the dainty muscari at the peak of its bloom.

Muscari pulchellum ~Grape Hyacinth

While I'm wildflower-spotting, Dear Husband is ever on the lookout for ruins. He found the remains of a ancient road, the stones peaking out from under both edges of the asphalt.

We made our way back to Jerash and enjoyed a light supper at our favorite Lebanese restaurant. The baba ghanoush (smoked eggplant salad) was perfect, as was the shanklish, a dip/spread of salty goat cheese, chopped tomatoes, and onion. They were out of our favorite muhammara, so we substituted keskeh, a dip of thick yogurt, cracked wheat, walnuts, and of course, olive oil.

The sun was beginning to set as we left Jerash, and as we glanced over our shoulders we were treated to colors more glorious than those we experienced on hills and forests of the countryside.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."  Psalm 19

Such a lovely afternoon.


MagistraCarminum said...

Just gorgeous!

Peter Gerhardt said...

Your photographs are exquisite! I sure appreciate your sharing them, For me it is like seeing Jordan through your eyes. Even your thoughts mirror mine so very often.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely description of an afternoon exploring the countryside and reflecting in the beauty of creation. Wonderful photos to go with your writing. I'm the same in that there are so many scenes that I would love to photograph and share when I'm out and about in Jordan, but it just isn't appropriate. I have got very good at taking the photo without looking like I'm taking a photo on my phone, but they are never the best shots, often rushed and not lined up properly.

Pictoria said...

Meandering must be very good for a marriage... glad you are having/taking time for such activities together. And I'm thinking we've eaten with you at the Lebanese restaurant, right? Lovely day, thanks for sharing it with us!