7 O'clock in the morning, we're off again, my friend Avraham and I, to catch the bus to the central bus station and from there to catch another bus, the 446 and finally at 8:30 we're walking, sticks in hand, hats on, bags full of water, mango's, dates, cheese sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, don't think we starve on these walks and to top it all we stop and pick a fine bunch of Riesling grapes, for extra munching.
Munching and walking and now and again stopping in the shade of a beautiful eucalyptus tree.
I was so busy munching a taking pictures that I didn't see Avraham turn off to sit for a while by the Sorek stream, which is mostly dry at this time of the year but Avraham says there was water, but I'd walked further along and missed that scene, which must have been a sight for sore eyes in this heat. Although it was cooler than most of the days we've had on our walks in the last 3 months or so.
I waited here for Avraham to catch up, taking pictures of the shiny white, feather like leaves of the reeds growing next to the Eucalyptus.
Israel is so small that even the most countryfied areas are close to some road or other and we had to go under a bridge, which carries road 6, Israel's famous and very busy North - South toll road,
The road continues passed the village of Yad Binyamin, where, last July we walked through the dry stalks of corn. By the time we came to the area, now, these had been mashed into bales, that decorated the spacious, empty land, waiting for new corn to be planted.
It looks amazing to me that food that took a whole field is now condensed into little bundles that take up one small strip of land.
I found it especially significant to see one solitary palm tree in the middle of the farmland. In another few months the dark green stalks of corn will surround it and make it invisible until next harvest.
The palm tree reminds me that this wasn't always cultivated land but a land for the recreation and relaxation of shepherds. The way of life has changed from lazy sheep eating whatever grows naturally, which wasn't very much and was very wasteful into land that is being made to earn it's keep in intensive farming that can produce enough income to allow the people of Yesodot and other settlements in the area to live well, even luxuriously.
I was fascinated to read that Yesodot has a training centre for mountain bikers. I could see bicycle tracks on many of the paths we walked.
The closest we came to the settlement was the neat entrance road, where there are benches and walkways. There are only about 100 families living here, but they're expanding, offering houses for sale. They are farmers as you can see but they are also devout Jews, even ultra-orthodox, as one finds in Bnei Brak and other ultra-orthodox areas of Israel. They have a yeshiva, which is renowned for it's Torah scholars and a school for orthodox girls.
I can visualize the people of Yesodot taking long, leisurely walks along the beautiful walkways they've made, with pleasant places to sit and discuss Torah.
Combining Torah study with farm labor is one of the principles of Bnei Akiva, the religious, Zionist movement. So, as one might expect the inhabitants study Torah in the Yeshivot and work in the fields, like this cabbage and cauliflower field.