a picture my son drew of a wave on a beach

Negev ­Storm

A view across the Arav/Negev Desert toward some Israeli polytunnels
Looking toward the polytunnels of Moshav Zofar in 1990

From the copy of the lost original which I wrote in October 1990:

The sky was being filled in with blue purple briuses, thunder clouds emitting a presence. Silently, thin electric legs began to step across the desert, titanic rumbles and crashes rolled across the expanse of broken flint. Without pause the swollen clouds stepped over us on razor legs, spiders from the gods. I watched from the broken shell of an ancient coach. Light flickered through the smashed windows, shifting shadows on the pocked orange rusty metal. A raindrop touched my cheek and a light pattering sound rang off the roof. The clouds, like a prophecy, began to gather along the ridge of the distant mountains.

The mountains stretched along the border between us and the Jordanians. The mass of power gathered and grew, spiralling up high. The sound was immense. The sun set and the storm was unleashed, like a volcano dropping from the sky. Supernatural arcs of light interected the clouds. Woven balls of light flickered within the writing cloud. I expected something to be created out of the maelstrom. Did the Canaanites see a storm like this when Abraham came to erase them from history?

Two days earlier I had been sitting on the sand in the polytunnel tying up and pruning tomato plants. The heat was dry and my throat parched.My hands resmbled crocodile skin, green with tomato sap and encrusted with dust. I stood up and rubbed my legs. Back-stepping to protect my face over the rows and through the strings of plants. My boss, Gabby was waiting beside his plastic orange Citroën Méhari with five ripe melons. Yousef and Hassan were already squatting around the gas stove with the long-handled pot of sweet coffee. Yousef grinned at me as he cut into the melon and passed around slices. The juice ran down our chins onto the sand.
“Tomorrow it is winter” said Gabby as he threw a melon skin towards the tomoatoes in the polytunnel.
“Tomorrow?!” I looked at him quizzically as I wiped melon juice off my chin.
He nodded and swallowed, “October the twenty seventh for the past four years, winters begins - you will see” he smiled and finished his melon and walked to the hose to wash.

The next day I sat among the tomatoes looping their stems round and snapping off the extra shoots. Outside a dust devil began to spin toward me. Before it could raise itself to any height it dropped against the polytunnel. A wave rolled the length of the roof and gracefully lifted the polythene to a crest and let it drop in a rumpled mess which slid to the ground. There was no-one to exclaim to, nothing else happened. I continued with my work until lunch when I drove back to the Moshav. As I stood telling Gabby his eyes lifted toward the mountains on the eastern horizon. His gaze strengthened, I turned to see. It was not immediately obvious that the sky was turning yellow ochre, reflecting the desert.
“Quick, we must shut the polytunnels or the dust storm will cover the plants”
We drove out and lowered the polythene. Gabby looked anxiously at the torn roof section as the dust began to distort the sunlight.
“You see? Here is winter, soon it will flood”

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