One day you're on the beach on Hannukah vacation, marveling at how warm it still is in December and next thing you know, bam--cold and rainy, winter has arrived. OK, so it's not that cold in Modiin for those of us who have lived in regions of the world that experience real winters but cold enough that I had to run out and buy socks for everyone (something like 40 to 48 degrees farehnheit, with wind and rain). Ariella, who is our most authentic Israeli child, was reluctant to trade her sandals in for a pair of socks and shoes but even she didn't venture out into the cold and wet with exposed feet. It's possible the weather changed on a dime like this last year but I suffer from a condition I call "weather amnesia." I don't know if that's even something real or if one can find it in the DSM-V--though with current trends to label everything I suppose that wouldn't surprise me. It's just that I can't remember weather from year to year so patterns escape me. Let's just say that even though we are now into December it was sort of shocking that it got cold and wet. Luckily a friend had dropped a bag of hand-me-downs off for Ariella or that poor girl would still be wearing sundresses. At the store I learned that what we call tights are called garbayot (long socks) here and what we call leggings they call "tights." Make sure if you are repeating these words at home to yourself to add the accent whenever words such as "bank," "lobby," or "villa" are spoken in Hebrew. Otherwise, you will never be understood!
Before all of you make fun of me for applying the adjective "cold" to 40-49 degrees, please remember that buildings here are designed for the majority of the year, which is quite warm. They therefore are made of stone, and keep it cooler inside in the Summer. But there is no (meaning zero) insulation. So when it is 43.5 degrees outside, it is 44 degrees inside (since your body heat helps out a little). This contributes to the feeling of cold, and explains why even the Olim from Britain and Canada are feeling the chill.
Anyway, living in a country that is so dependent on rain I actually have a feeling of increased security when it is pouring outside. Like, ugh it's wet and icky, but hooray the Kinneret is filling up.
There is something I don't understand, though, and if there are any city planners reading I would like you to chime in. (Elaine M. if you are still reading--maybe Andrew could advise?) I haven't noticed much in the way of drainage systems here. I mean 150 years ago they were draining swamps and the like, but for instance in my city which is relatively new (20 years old or so), when it rains large puddles appear on the roads and sidewalks, and some buildings have small floods. Now I come from Kansas City, home of wet basements. I totally get that if it rains excessively and the ground is completely saturated, basements fill with water. But this is not an excessive rain situation. This is more puddles accumulating in the street after a morning of rain. I don't see drainage sewers. I started thinking that maybe in climates that are prone to drought there is a reason for this and would love it if any readers could comment or explain.
Friday morning update: I didn't send this post out last night, and I awoke this morning to weather news from Jerusalem that makes our Modiin winter seem somewhat underwhelming. Jerusalem often gets some snow, and people from Modiin will sometimes take their children to play there. However, today, Jerusalem has gotten a much larger share of snow than usual, leading to the shutdowns of the highways, and the army and police rescuing 2,000 motorists who were stuck because of the snow.
I remember a massive snowstorm in Nashville that completely shut that city down, demonstrating that the essential thing is preparation, preparation, preparation. At the time, Nashville only had 3 snowplows. I bet you they wouldn't have even noticed that storm in Toronto. Karen, if you're reading this, do you remember that storm? The one where people drove 20 minutes to work, realized the fury of the storm and turned around at 9:30 or 10 a.m. to get home, only to arrive home 10 hours later. . .
Any potential Christian tourists sharing Bing Crosby's dream shouldn't hold their breath, though, since next week is forecasted to be in the high 40s and low 50s in Jerusalem, which should melt everything away before December 25th. Which, by the way, is cousin David's birthday. Happy birthday, David!