Monday, April 15, 2013

A Milestone Birthday

When I was young, I felt April to be the perfect month for a birthday, and now that I am older I still feel that way. Living in Jordan has reinforced my thankfulness for an April birthday for a couple of reasons: Dear Husband and my children take me on a trip to the countryside to enjoy the soon-to-fade spring beauty one last time, and it is a perfect excuse for some of my dearest friends to get together to see each other after a busy winter and early spring.

I celebrated my 50th(!) birthday last week, and though it is a milestone birthday of sorts, I was able to convince Dear Husband and Tayta that I wanted nothing more than an afternoon trip to the countryside, ending with an early dinner at our favorite Lebanese restaurant in Jerash. My wishes were obliged, enhanced with a few sweet touches by family and friends. I awoke to this banner, which I could see and read even before getting out of bed. (Yes, I have a view into the kitchen from my bed. I think it very cozy.)

Dear Husband went to work for the morning and my friend, Kelly, called to ask if she could stop by. We enjoyed a cup of coffee/tea together and some relaxed conversation. She showered me with some fun gifts--chocolate, of course, and this lovely tea towel which she embroidered. Translation: "shy" = tea. Yis'lam idayki! (God's peace on your hands). What a unexpectedly pleasant beginning to my day!

Dear Husband came home about lunch time.We grabbed our water bottles, sunscreen, and cameras, and we all set off for an afternoon of  wildflower spotting in the countryside. As it is mid-April, the colors of the landscape are fading and muting. The textures are changing too, as wheat and grasses grow long, even as their color fades, and sturdier wildflowers take the stage, replacing those who have finished performing.

It is always a delight to observe some species of wildflower that I've not observed before, and I found a few on my birthday. The first one was easy to find as we could see many bright yellow clumps of flax as we drove the road from Mafraq to Jerash.

Linum mucronatum
Yellow Flax

This doesn't look like much to take a picture of, but this clump of spent irises looked to be black irises and so I took note of their location. I'll try returning a couple weeks earlier next year to observe them. Hat tip to Dear Husband for finding them.

At our next roadside stop, Tatya camped out at one particular clump of Anchusa around which fluttered about a dozen butterflies. She took this beautiful picture:

I found a few interesting flowers just hanging out by the side of the road:

Crupina crupinastrum

Something in genus Asteriscus, I think?

Hmm. I can't get better than family Lamiaceae on this one. At least for now.


We continued on to Dibeen Nature Reserve. I nurtured a hope of spotting an orchid there, though I thought it was probably too late in the season. The pine forest of Dibeen is one of the few places in Jordan where orchids are found in the wild. Being the beautiful spring day that it was, the forest was full of picnickers.

We found a deserted field just outside of the forested area so we stopped to relax for awhile, and of course, take a look around for wildflowers.

Maybe something in the genus Anthemis?

Cistus creticus
Pink Rock Rose

Something in the mint/sage family of plants~Lamiaceae

Trifolium purpureum
Purple Clover

Dear Husband enjoyed the outdoors in his own particular way.

We had to drive back through the picnickers and pine forest to leave the reserve; there was no color to be found, except the green of the trees and the accumulating trash of the picnickers. And then I spotted this from the car window, growing right next to the road.

"Stop the car! I think I saw an orchid!"

From a distance, it didn't look like much, but as I got a close-up view I was delighted to behold its orchid beauty, orchid beauty of a species I hadn't yet seen before. Such a perfect end to a day of wildflower spotting!

Limodorum abortivum
Violet Limodore

We made our way from Dibeen back to Jerash. The Lebanese House was packed with people, but thankfully we had only to wait about ten minutes for a table. My next wonderful birthday surprise was the arrival of  one of my first friends in Jordan, a kindred spirit who has been as a sister to me. She is in the thick of writing her doctoral dissertation, not to mention teaching and directing a play, and I have not talked with her since Christmas! Just two days ago I shot off a plaintive Facebook message to her: " Any chance that I'll be able to see you soon? I MISS YOU!  Dear husband knew nothing of this message when he arranged the surprise. And its a good thing that her husband came along so that Dear Husband had someone to talk to as my friend and I yakked the almost the entire time. Tatya did a lot of listening through that dinner.

The perfect end to the day was arriving home and enjoying a Skype call with all my children, scattered about four locations, if you count Tayta in Jordan. Tatya thought the one blight on an otherwise perfect birthday was the absence of a birthday cake, but with my Lebanese dinner and Lindt chocolate I didn't miss it at all. She promises me a belated birthday cake. My cup runneth over! Happy Birthday to me! 


Pictoria said...

Happy Birthday to you! Sounds like a beautiful day, just to your particular liking, and suitable for your 5 decades of life... and inclusive of all the many treasured things... family, beauty, hiking, flowers, chocolate, and friends!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! What a wonderful way to spend a birthday and to spot an orchid is the perfect way to finish some wildflower spotting. I will have to pass on the recipe for the chocolate cake that I made for your daughter to make for you. :)

Quotidian Life said...

Yes, Andrea, please do pass on your recipe. You can email me if that is easier:

desertmom88 @ gmail

Anneloes said...

Happy birthday,what a beautiful day you had! Many blessings for the year to come.